TOKYO — Shohei Ohtani allowed one hit in the four innings he pitched, struck out five and was the winning pitcher Thursday in Japan’s 8-1 victory over China in Group B at the World Baseball Classic.
Ohtani also doubled off the left field wall in the fourth to score two at the Tokyo Dome and increase Japan’s lead to 3-0.
The fans got what they came for – Ohtani pitching, hitting and not disappointing the 41,616 who showed up. Japan eventually won in a game closer than expected until the hosts broke it open late.
Besides Ohtani, the fan favorite was Lars Nootbaar of the St. Louis Cardinals, who made a sprawling catch is center and also led off and hit the first pitch he saw for a single in the first.
China cut the lead to 3-1 in the sixth on Pei Liang’s home run, but Japan got it back in the seventh to make it 4-1 on a homer by Shugo Maki.
The Japanese added four runs in the eighth to put the game away.
Japan will next play South Korea on Friday while China takes on the Czech Republic.
AUSTRALIA 8, SOUTH KOREA 7 Robbie Perkins hit one of Australia’s three homers to beat South Korea in Group B at the Tokyo Dome.
Australia, leading 5-4 in the top of the eighth, put the game away with a three-run shot by Perkins. The blast came off Hyeon-Jong Yang, who had entered in relief in the inning and made only seven pitches and got no one out.
Australia went ahead 2-0 in the fifth, but South Korea rallied with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. That came on Euiji Yang’s three-run, line-drive home run to left field.
South Korea added another run in the sixth. But Australia scored three in the seventh to take the lead.
The seventh inning also featured a three-run homer from Robbie Glendinning, with Australia living off its power game.
South Korea scored three runs in its eighth – on five walks and a hit batter – to cut the lead to 8-7 but could not break through in the ninth.
NETHERLANDS 3, PANAMA 1 The Netherlands, after beating Cuba in the opener, won its second game in two days in Group A.
Xander Bogaerts homered in the third to give the Dutch a 1-0 lead. Jurickson Profar added to the lead in the fifth with another one-run home run.
Panama’s Erasmo Caballero cut the lead to 2-1 in the sixth on an single that scored Jose Ramos.
The Netherlands picked up its final run in the eight when Bogaerts scored on a wild pitch by Alberto Baldonado.
ITALY 6, CUBA 3 (10 innings) Cuba lost its second game in Group A play, falling to Italy in what is a disappointing start for what used to be Latin America’s top power.
Brett Sullivan’s sacrifice in the sixth scored Sal Frelick and gave Italy a 1-0 lead. The Italians made it 2-0 in the seventh on a double by Miles Mastrobuoni that scored Nicky Lopez.
Cuba cut the lead to 2-1 in its half of the seventh on an RBI single from Lorenzo Quintana that scored Erisbel Arruebarrena.
In the eighth, Arruebarrena tried to save Cuba and tied the game on a single scoring Alfredo Despaigne.
The game went to extra innings with Italy scoring four in the 10th to clinch the victory. Cuba picked up one in the bottom of the 10th.
Italy is 1-0 and faces winless Taiwan on Friday. Cuba faces Panama next.