Yasunobu Okugawa struck out 18 in his seven innings of work for Japan, showcasing his touted 94 mile-per-hour fastball to a number of scouts, but the young Samurai had to come from behind to beat Canada, 5-1.
Canada’s designated hitter Owen Diodati stepped into the box with two outs and no one on base in the top of the fourth. Okugawa had allowed one base hit at that moment of the game. Ten of the 11 outs had been on strikes. Diodati looked at two balls, fouled the next two pitches and then was all over a belt-high fastball. Diodati drove the pitch over the right-field wall for a home run.
Okugawa won’t allow another hit. He got out of the inning on strikes and ended his 103-pitch effort collecting 18 strikeouts. He didn’t allow a walk.
Japan got in scoring position in each of the first four at-bats but never scored. Canada’s left fielder prevented the Samurai from scoring in the bottom of the second with a great diving catch on a deep fly by catcher Shinnosuke Yamase.
Japan reversed the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Canada’s starter Theodore Millas walked a couple of batters and then left the mound to Evan O’Toole. Japan’s shortstop Ryusei Takeoka bunted on the first pitch by Evan O’Toole. The reliever got to the ball but his throw was way off the third-base bag. Designated hitter Toyo Kumada singled with the infield in and runners and second and third to put Japan ahead.
Japan took advantage of control problems of Elias Saul, the third pitcher of the night for Canada, to add a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Iizuka Shuto took care of the last six outs for Japan.