June 3, 2023

The right-handed pitcher issued just one free pass across five innings of work. Mexico scored two runs in the sixth and seventh innings against the relief pitcher Ryutaro Sawayanagi, but they left the potential tying runs on third and second base in the seventh inning.

In Japan’s 4-2 victory over Mexico on Saturday in the Super Round of the IV WBSC U-23 Baseball World Cup, Japan relied on a gem by starter Raiku Katayama, who bore the load and remained unbeatable for five innings of the game.

The lead that Japan had built up between the second and third innings was able to be maintained despite a late comeback attempt by the opposing team. On Sunday, Japan and Korea will compete for the world championship against each other.

In the bottom half of the second inning, Japan scored the run that put them ahead. Ren Onishi, the designated hitter, started the inning off with a single, moved to second on a groundout, and ultimately scored on a single by Kaito Saida, the right fielder.

They took the lead for good in the bottom of the third inning when they batted against the reliever Jose Reyes. Hiroki Nakagawa, who plays third base, started the blaze with a double. Saida, Yuto Hirano, and Kanta Aiba, who plays first base, all contributed hits to the team’s total. After then, shortstop Jin Nakamura contributed by scoring a run with a sacrifice fly.

Japan would not be able to score any more runs despite having more hits (9-3) than Mexico.

Angel Camacho, who was pinch hitting for Mexico, drove home their first run in the top of the sixth inning against Ryutaro Sawayanagi. The reliever was successful in getting two outs by striking out, but before he could complete the inning, he issued three walks and enabled the first run to score for Mexico.

The top of the seventh inning brought additional difficulties for Japan. Sawayanagi handed Aldo Nunez, the right fielder, a single, and Jose Zepeda, the second baseman, a double with two outs and a runner already on first. Nunez and Zepeda were suddenly in position to potentially produce runs that would tie the game at third and second, but Sawayanagi just needed one pitch to retire shortstop Hector Mora and end the game.

The number one position in the entire world In 2016, Japan triumphed in the inaugural U-23 Baseball World Cup, but in 2018, Mexico defeated them in the championship game of the second tournament. Prior to these events, Japan finished in second place in the first and only edition of the U-21 Baseball World Cup, which was won by Chinese Taipei.

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