Japan faced a test on Monday when they took on the Dominican Republic but they came away with an 8-3 win thanks for a late inning rally. This win moves Japan to 2-0 and sets up a high-powered matchup on Tuesday against Korea. The winner of that game will win Group E International, the other will finish second but still move on to the elimination round.
Both teams were held scoreless in the first two innings but Japan broke though in the third. After the first two outs were made, a pair of walks put runners on for Shota Motoki who ripped a triple into right field that nearly left the ballpark.
When this Japan team jumps out in front, they usually do not relinquish the lead but the Dominican Republic were in for a fight. They were able to get two men on base for the leadoff hitter, Freddie Espinal, who found a pitch he liked and drilled it for a three-run homer. The team gathered at home plate and the Dominican Republic fans went wild in the stands as their team took a 3-2 lead over the tournament favorites.
The 3-2 score held until the fifth inning and like any great team does with their back against the wall, Japan rallied and fought out of it. Motoki delivered again, this time with a double to tie the game at three. Other RBI hits were delivered by Ryunosuke Tsuji and Yugo Maeda. Rintaro Kosugi was named player of the game thanks to three walks, stolen bases and runs scored.
Maeda went the first three on the mound for Japan and pitched well up until the rocky third inning. Ryoga Saka was a bright spot as he pitched two hitless inning in relief. Lewis Ceballos looked strong in the beginning for the Dominican Republic giving up only one hit and striking out five. Control issues caught up with him in the fourth inning as he walked five batters.
With this loss, the Dominican Republic falls to 0-2 in pool play and will likely not be moving on. All eyes will be on the Japan-Korea matchup Tuesday to see who will win their group.
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