Maruyama three-run homer, masterful pitching highlight Japan's title victory over Korea

Maruyama three-run homer, masterful pitching highlight Japan's title victory over Korea
23/10/2022
Japan defeated Korea 3-0 in the IV U-23 Baseball World Cup final. Masashi Maruyama's homer represented the first runs allowed by Korea's left-handed pitcher Saangyung Lee. Japan won the inaugural edition and finished second in 2018.

A three-run home run by second baseman Masashi Maruyama in the bottom of the third represented all the run production of the game for Japan in their 3-0 defeat of Korea in the final to win the IV WBSC U-23 Baseball World Cup.

"I realised that my teammates had been trying hard to get on base, so I figured that I had to contribute as well," said Maruyama after the game.

"We look at this tournament as a constant challenge for the team and myself. I believe that through the tournament, we were able to accomplish a lot. From now on, we think that we are more ready to face the challenges the future will have for us."

It was the first time Korea's left-hander Saangyung Lee allowed a run in the tournament.

"I pitched against Mexico, and I worked on a three-day rest. I didn't feel I had my best stuff tonight, but I tried my best. I don't think I made a mistake on that pitch. I credit Maruyama," said Lee.

Japanese pitchers were on top of the game as well as they did not allow a hit until the fifth. On the next pitch, Korea grounded into a double play.

"I wouldn't say it was a bad choice We were down three runs. You have to trust your hitters in that situation. Japan's pitching was top-level, but our hitters didn't play at our best throughout the tournament," commented manager Yeon Soo Lee.

A silver medal is the best result ever for Korea in this age bracket, surpassing their bronze medal in 2014 .

"You are never satisfied when you finish second, but we gave all we had. This makes me proud," said Lee on a final note,

After winning the first and only U-21 Baseball World Cup in 2014, Japan won the inaugural edition of the U-23 Baseball World Cup in 2016 and finished second behind Mexico in 2018.

Korea earned a bronze medal in 2016, finished third in the U-21 2014 and fourth in 2018, but has never played in a final. It was the first time Japan and Korea met in an age-group Baseball World Cup final.

Japan's manager Aiko Ishii commented: "I was well aware of the level of the tournament, but I knew my players were here to do their best to win."

U-23 BASEBALL WORLD CUP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL

Japan-Korea3-0BOX SCORE

You can relive the action as it developed through our live updates below.

Japan-Korea 3-0

Japan missed a scoring opportunity in the bottom of the first, when Yuto Hirano tried to reach home from first on a two-out double by Kanta Aiba. A perfect throw by right fielder Sejin Cho to catcher Son Seongbin beat Hirano at the plate.

In the bottom of the third, Masashi Maruyama was all over a hanging breaking ball by starter Saangyung Lee and drove it over the right field fence for a three-run home run.

Korea called right-hander Seungju Han from the bullpen.

Japan lost another scoring opportunity in the bottom of the fourth. Jin Nakamura tried to reach third after a bunt attempt by Kaito Saida had rolled beyond the first base bag. A perfect throw by second baseman Taeyun Kim got him on the third base bag.

First baseman Taeyang Han led off the fifth with Korea's first hit, while Seongbin Son went after reliever Takuto Yanagihashi's first pitch and grounded into a double play.

Star closer Ryusei Gonda pitched the seventh and earned the save.