Team Japan is headed to the semifinals of this year’s World Baseball Classic.
With their 9-3 win over Team Italy on Thursday, Japan officially punched their ticket to the next round.
Ultimately, it was a team effort.
Masataka Yoshida drove in two runs and picked up a hit while first baseman Kazuma Okamoto drove in five on two hits, which included a three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning.
But it was Los Angeles Angels ace Shohei Ohtani who ultimately led the way for Japan.
The right-hander pitched 4.2 innings and allowed just two runs on four hits.
He also struck out five batters and picked up a hit while at the plate.
On Twitter, the official account for the World Baseball Classic tweeted a highlight reel featuring all of Ohtani’s strikeouts.
Shohei Ohtani struck out five to lead his team to the #WorldBaseballClassic semifinals 💪 pic.twitter.com/rNx6CPFKlh
— World Baseball Classic (@WBCBaseball) March 16, 2023
Ohtani certainly had a game to be proud of on Thursday.
With his two-way abilities on full display, he led Japan back to the semifinals.
Following Ohtani’s exit, the bullpen helped the early runs Japan had scored hold up.
Hiromi Itoh ultimately relieved Ohtani and got the final out of the fifth inning, earning a hold in the process.
San Diego Padres ace Yu Darvish also pitched two innings in relief and allowed a run on two hits and struck out a batter, all while not allowing a single walk.
But the Angels ace set the tone for Team Japan as they finally closed out Team Italy and advanced further in this year’s WBC.
Their opponent will be determined over the weekend.NEXT: Mike Trout Comments On Team USA's Success