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Game Report

Loss to Chinese Taipei in the First IBAF 21U World Cup Finals, Second Place


In their rematch with Chinese Taipei, whom they scored a come-from-behind victory against earlier, during the First IBAF 21U World Cup Finals, Japan gave up many runs due to uncoordinated defense and their opponent's overwhelming batting. The batting line was also silenced by Chinese Taipei's pitchers resulting in a 0-9 defeat, and ended the competition in second place with 7 wins and 1 loss.

Japan's starting pitcher was Yudai Mori (Tohoku Rakuten). Mori endured a two-out bases-loaded jam in the first inning, after two hits and one walk, but managed to recover with the seventh batter, Luo Guolin, hitting a pop fly to second.

But when Mori faced a one-out bases-loaded jam in the second inning, he allowed a run-scoring walk from the second batter, Li Zongxian, with a straight. Japan had given up the first point to Chinese Taipei. Japan quickly switched pitcher, and the second pitcher Yuya Yokoyama (Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Kashima) took the mound.

Yokoyama took the mound with one out and bases loaded, and got the third batter, Yang Daijun, to hit a pitcher's grounder. Everyone expected a doule play, but Yokoyama made a bad throw home, and the third baseman scored a run. The score was 0-2. Chinese Taipei then scored another point during the failed double-play of the fourth batter, Wang Bairong, leaving Japan behind by three points in the early innings.

Three points behind, the Japanese batting line faced Chinese Taipei's starter, Guo Junlin, who will play for Saitama Seibu next season. In the bottom of the second, the top batter of the inning, fourth batter, Kensuke Kondo (Hokkaido Nippon-Ham), made it to first. After one out, the sixth batter, Sho Azegami (Hosei University), hit a long ball to right center field, but he was blocked by the opponents' defense, and could not clear the outfield.

In the top of the fourth, Chinese Taipei's batting line was set on fire. With one out and one on, second batter, Li Zongxian, hit a run-scoring double. Following this, the third batter, Yang Daijun, also hit a run-scoring double over the center fielder, resulting in a 0-5 lead over Japan. Japan then sent Kazuto Taguchi (Yomiuri Giants) to the mound as third pitcher, in place of Yokoyama.

With Japan now five points behind, the third batter, Taisei Makihara (Fukoka SoftBank), and fourth batter, Kondo, made hits in the bottom of the fourth, creating a chance with no outs and runners on first and third. However, the follow-up failed, and the inning ended with no runs. In the bottom of the sixth, with one out, third batter, Makihara, got on base from his second hit of the day, but could not score a run, and Japan faced the final innings with no runs.

In the top of the seventh, with one out and runners on first and second, Japan gave up two runs after allowing consecutive runs batted in by batters 6 and 7. The lead was opened to seven points, with a score of 0-7.

The game ended with Chinese Taipei scoring another two runs in the eighth inning. Japan lost 0-9.

After the match, Coach Katsuo Hirata spoke in a detached tone, saying ""The away atmosphere of a stadium made no difference, because they played there yesterday. It was a matter of whether or not they were doing their best. This was a good experience for these players. I want them to grow up as they swallow their tears. I wanted these players to have the experience of being best in the world. They won all the way up to this point, but in a crucial game, you have to win when it counts. That's how tournaments are. We don't live in an easy world. The players gave it their all. Perhaps the critical difference (between us and Chinese Taipei) was in coaching. These players have to keep pulling Japanese baseball along. So I want them to grow from their frustration.""

The second pitcher Yokoyama said, ""I wanted to do something about the jam that Mori made, and I am sorry that I didn't make the play that anyone could have done (the bad throw home). I was inadequate.""

The fourth batter of the team, Kondo, said, ""(We lost) because we were inadequate. The coaches all had high hopes for us throughout the tournament, but these results did not meet their expectations. We will all be playing on different teams from this point on, but I want us all to fight as comrades. I am happy that I was able to play baseball up to this point.""

After their defeat, Seiya Suzuki (Hiroshima) and the others hung their head in shame motionless on the bench. The Samurai Japan 21U National Team was just one step away from being the first champions. This frustration that the young samurai felt may be satisfied when they wear the Rising Sun in the top team.


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