Photo: Getty/Samurai Japan

OSAKA, Japan — The top-ranked Japanese National Team shut out world No. 6 Mexico, 6-0, as the two squads split the two-game series before a crowd of 28,622 Sunday night (10 March) at the Kyocera Dome Osaka.

Clean-up hitter Masataka Yoshida belted a grand slam off Mexico’s Manuel Barreda in the first inning, and Tatsuhiro Tamura followed with an RBI single, sending five Samurai Japan runners across the plate to open the game.

“It was a chance to score the first run (of the game),” said Yoshida, who plays with NPB’s Orix Buffaloes in Osaka. “It was a low fastball and I was able to put a strong swing on it.”

Yoshida collected his fifth RBI on a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, which extended Japan’s lead to 6-0.

Mexico outhit Japan eight to seven but wasn’t able to score any runs off the Samurai pitching staff.

Japan used seven pitchers, with starter Juri Hara earning the win and Yasuaki Yamasaki coming on in the ninth inning to close the game. Mexican starter Barreda took the loss.

The international series in Osaka, which were a test ahead of November’s flagship global event Premier12 on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, was duly sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) and will impact the WBSC World Rankings.