Japan keeps marching undefeated towards the final of the U-12 Baseball World Cup. The young Samurai beat, 4-1, Venezuela playing superb defence behind almost untouchable pitchers. Japan’s offence showed the Samurai can use both power and the short ball to put runs across the scoreboard.
Japan’s starter Sakuma Aoki impressed with a blistering 76-mile per hour fastball but had struggles with control. He allowed two walks in the top of the second and Venezuela’s third baseman Christopher Alvarado made him pay with a one-out and one-RBI double.
Trailing, 1-0, and with runners at second and third, righthander Kotaro Kawagoe struck out both hitters he faced. His speed was not quite as impressive as Aoki’s, but the way he attacked the inside of the strike zone made him look like a veteran.
Kawagoe and lefthander Shintaro Sakamoto won’t concede other chances to score.
Venezuela got to Kynosuke Hayashi, the second Japanese reliever, in the top of the fifth. With a runner on, catcher Johan Fernandez sent a deep fly to the gap in right-centre. Hayashi found some relevant help from centre fielder Rui Akazawa, who got Fernandez with a spectacular running catch.
When Venezuela built their last chance to score, Japan was already leading 4-1.
Down by one run, the young Samurai took the lead in the bottom of the second. Third baseman Haru Kataoka got to Venezuela’s starter Jean Blanco with a hit that cleared the bases and scored three runs.
The other run came in the bottom of the fourth. Catcher Shinsuke Kuwamoto reached on a leadoff double and touched home on two consecutive bunts.