The thrilling moment I’ve been dreaming of for a long time. Shohei Ohtani (LA Angels)’s eyes were already on the next tournament.
The ‘Dream Team’ defeated even the United States. Japan defeated the United States 3-2 in the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) final held at Londipo Park in Miami, USA on the 22nd (Korean time). It was the first championship in 14 years since 2009. Japanese newspapers congratulated their country’s victory by releasing extra editions all at once.
At the moment of emotion, Ohtani was on the mound. On the mound in the top of the ninth, Ohtani gave up a walk to Jeff McNeil (New York Mets)안전놀이터, but led the next batter, Mookie Betts (LA Dodgers), to 463 double-strikes. He then struck out his best friend and captain of the U.S. national team, superstar Mike Trout (Angels), and rose to the throne.
It was a tournament that started with Ohtani’s double sword and ended with Ohtani’s strikeout. On the other hand, it was a bittersweet tournament for Darvish Yu (San Diego Padres), who played a key role in winning the championship in 2009 and was a pitcher.
Darvish appeared three times in this tournament. In his first match against Korea, he allowed Yang Eui-ui a two-run four and Lee Jung-hoo a timely hit, and was sluggish with 3 hits and 3 runs (2 earned) in 1 inning. Three of the four points Korea scored on this day were against Darvish.
In the quarterfinal match against Italy, he pitched with the bullpen in the 7th inning and allowed a home run to Dominic Fletcher, giving up 1 run in 2 innings. In the 8th inning in the final against the U.S., he gave up a solo shot to Kyle Schwaber and allowed a 2-3 chase. If it had not been for winning this tournament, he would have received a lot of criticism.
In an interview after the game, Darvish said, “It wasn’t easy to pitch with the bullpen. I’m so glad I was able to win. I can’t believe it. I’m happy.”
“(Young players) had a part that made me feel burdened. As the tournament progressed, the atmosphere became enjoyable. I was really excited beyond words, but today I was in an emotional mood. At the last minute, a huge confrontation was concluded, but I believed that Ohtani would strike out.”
Darvish signed a six-year contract extension with San Diego ahead of this tournament. He reversed his words in the past, when he said, “I will retire when I turn 37.” It means that he has confidence in his future skills.
However, at the moment of victory, even Darvish couldn’t help but cry at Ohtani’s words.
“After winning the championship, Ohtani said, ‘See you again in three years.’ I will work hard until then so that I can stand on this stage again.”