07/07/2018 - 15/07/2018


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Japan wins and heads to the final, New Zealand finishes third #2018jrworlds

Japan wins and heads to the final, New Zealand finishes third #2018jrworlds

The Junior Black Sox homered twice in the first off starter Onodera and once in the seventh off reliever Kitagawa. It was not enough and Japan will play the final against Australia. New Zealand finished in third place

Japan came from behind to beat, 5-3, New Zealand and join Australia in the final of the WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship. Yugo Kitagawa picked the win. New Zealand finished in third place.

On a windy afternoon, New Zealand hit a home run on the very first pitch by Japanese starter Shota Onodera. Harrison Valk took him deep to left and Reilly Makea, the starting pitcher for the Junior Black Sox, homered to center as the third hitter of the game to make it 2-0.

Harrison Valk homered on the first pitch of the game

In the bottom of the first Japan wasted no time to strike back. Hiroshi Sakata sent the second pitch by Reilly Makea beyond the fence to cut New Zealand’s lead.
With 2 outs in the bottom of the third, Makea walked second baseman Iwamoto. Third baseman Shoki Matsuo doubled to right to tie the game and a wild pitch gave Japan the lead. Japan had figured out how to handle Makea’s off speed stuff. Catcher Nishimori took him to right again for an RBI single. New Zealand turned to reliever Joshua Kelly, but this didn’t stop Japan. Right fielder Sato singled in shallow center field and left fielder Hiroki Chikamori added an RBI double to extend the lead to 5-2.

Japan never needed to look back. Yugo Kitagawa took over for Onodera in the top of the second and blanked the Junior Black Sox offense for most of the game.

New Zealand’s manager Thomas Makea didn’t hesitate in using pinch hitters. In the top of the sixth, Kitagawa struck out Tobias Makis with runners at first and second. In the top of the seventh Brad Carson got to him with a lead off home run. Tyler Packer then singled and this brought to the plate Valk as the potential tying run. New Zealand’s catcher lined out to pitcher and Kitagawa caught Packer far from first base for a key double play. Kitagawa sealed the win striking out shortstop Kaleb Rona on a masterful change up.

Yugo Kitagawa pitched masterfully for Japan