Japan send warning to Aussies at World Baseball Classic
Japan have hammered out a warning to buoyant Australia ahead of their clash of unbeaten teams at the World Baseball Classic in Tokyo.
Superstar Shohei Ohtani had another RBI double and 21-year-old right-hander pitcher Roki Sasaki reached 100 mph 21 times in 66 pitches as Japan beat the Czech Republic 10-2 before a crowd of 41,637 at the Tokyo Dome on Saturday night to clinch a quarter-final berth.
They will attempt to complete a perfect 4-0 Pool B campaign on Sunday when they face Dave Nilsson's Australia, who are 2-0 after crushing winless China 12-2 earlier on Saturday, with the 10-run mercy rule enforced.
Robbie Glendinning hit his second homer of the tournament for Australia in that win while Rixon Wingrove had four RBIs.
The Aussies were backing up their opening upset victory over world No.4 South Korea and are eyeing a first-ever quarter-final berth, with two teams to advance from their five-team pool.
Shugo Maki hit his second home run of the tournament for Japan and new Boston Red Sox oufielder Masataka Yoshida had three RBIs, including a go-ahead, two-run double in the third inning as the Samurai Warriors overcame a 1-0 deficit against Czech Republic (1-1).
Ohtani went 1 for 3 with a walk, leaving for a pinch hitter in the eighth inning.
He is 5 for 10 with three doubles, four RBIs and five walks for Japan and has also has pitched four scoreless innings.
Sasaki struck out eight in 3 2/3 innings and got the win. He allowed an unearned run, two hits and two walks.
Sasaki threw the 16th perfect game in Japanese major league history in April, then pitched eight perfect innings in his next start before being pulled after 102 pitches.
He went 9-2 with a 2.02 ERA for the Pacific League's Chiba Lotte Marines last year, striking out 173 in 129 1/3 innings.