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Premier12 Final: Remembering Tetsuto Yamada's game-changing home run

Premier12 Final: Remembering Tetsuto Yamada's game-changing home run
Japan was trailing 3-1 against rival Korea in the championship game of the Premier12 2019 when the first baseman stepped into the batter's box.

The three-run home run that Samurai Japan's first baseman Tetsuto Yamada hit off former Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) MVP Yang Hyeonjong was the game-changer in the final of the WBSC Premier12 2019. Yamada's long ball reversed the lead and Samurai Japan didn't need to look back.

Yamada wouldn't get another hit during the final. His batting during the Premier12 did not prove sparkling. Yamada finished with 4 hits for 20 at-bats, a .200 batting average, with just one home run and six RBI but his lone home run was timed perfectly.

With a packed Tokyo Dome looking forward to a repeat of the previous day's 10-8 win over Korea - where Yamada also led the Samurai offence - that ended the Premier12 Super Round, the expectations of the home fans ahead of the final were high.

However, it didn't start well for the world No. 1 team as Korea scored three runs at their first turn at bat before, with Japan trailing 3-1, Yamada turned on his heroics in the bottom of the second with a three-run homer off Korea's superstar starter Hyeonjong, scoring Tsubasa Aizawa and Ryosuke Kikuchi in the process.

Jon Morosi interviewed Yamada after the Super Round game

Yamada was born on 16 July 1992 in Toyooka, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan. He spent his whole professional career with the Yakult Swallows of the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) Central League. The Swallows selected him in the first round of the NPB Draft 2010.

Yamada has appeared in 964 games for the Swallows through the 2019 season. He has hit 202 home runs, 35 in the 2019 season alone, and batted in 583 runs. His career batting average is a very solid .297.

Yamada made his debut for Samurai Japan during the 2014 Major League Baseball (MLB)-Japan All-Star Series. He has been a regular since then.

He was Japan's everyday second baseman during the inaugural Premier12 in 2015. He helped Japan earn a bronze medal, hitting a couple of home runs in the third-place game against Mexico.

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