OSAKA, Japan — In the battle between Asia’s and Oceania’s top-ranked nations, world No. 2 Japan completed a two-game sweep, shutting out No. 8 Australia, 6-0, Sunday night before a crowd of 27,951 at the Kyocera Osaka Dome.
Samurai starter Takahiro Norimoto (Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles – NPB) registered five strikeouts in his two innings pitched and was credited with the victory. Japan pitchers held the Aussies to just three hits.
Trent D’Antonio’s (Sydney Blue Sox – ABL) near-home run off the right-center field wall in the 9th inning was the closest the Aussies were to scoring.
Go Matsumoto (Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters – NPB) had 3 RBI, and Yusuke Akiyama (Hanshin Tigers) had 2 RBI and a triple to power the offense.
Australia starting pitcher Tim Atherton (Brisbane Bandits – ABL) took the loss.
“I struggled with my curveball a little bit tonight. We don’t get the opportunity much to play in an atmosphere like this, so I try to take it in as much as I can,” Atherton said.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics
In the post-game interview, Japan manager Atsunori Inaba said his squad will be going for the gold medal when baseball returns to the Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020.
Australia will be looking to qualify and earn its second Olympic Baseball medal at Tokyo 2020.
Baseball Australia and Samurai Japan’s highest finish in the Olympic Games has been a silver medal.