(CNN) Japan won the Baseball World Cup Classic on Tuesday night, defeating Team USA 3-2 in the championship game at Depot Park in Miami.
The game ended in dramatic fashion as Japan’s Shuhei Otani knocked out fellow MLB Mike Trott with a full count slider for Japan’s third title. Akhtani, who batted . 435 and rushed to a 1.86 ERA, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Japan won all seven matches they played in the tournament, their juggernaut offense Scored 53 points in the first six contests. But Team USA pitchers limited Japan to only five hits. But Japan was spurred by solo home runs by Munetaka Murakami and Kazuma Okamoto.
Seven Japanese pitchers allowed nine American hits but the USA team was 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
Team USA’s Trea Turner hit a solo home run off Shota Imanaga to open the scoring with one out in the top of the second. It was Turner’s fifth home run in the tournament, tying the WBC record.
But in the bottom half of the first period, two-time Japan Player of the Year Murakami took the lead, beating away Team USA’s Merrill Kelly to tie the game at 1-1.
Kelly failed to get out of the second as Japan loaded the bases with one out on singles by Okamoto and Sosuke Genda and a walk by No. 9 batter Yohei Nakamura. Pitcher Aaron Loeb came on to Team USA and gave up an RBI pitch to Lars Nutbar before Kensuke Kondoh pushed home to finish the inning with Japan leading 2-1.
Japan made it 3-1 with a home run by Okamoto in the bottom of the fourth.
In the eighth inning, with Yu Darvish entering Japan, Kyle Schwarber homed the tenth of his punt to tie the USA team at 3-2.
Japan also won the WBC title in the first two editions of the tournament in 2006 and 2009.
The tournament has been postponed from 2021 to 2023 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The next World Baseball Classic will be held in 2026 at TBD locations.
CNN’s Thomas Schlachter contributed to this report.
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