Samurai Japan, the history of a success

Samurai Japan, the history of a success
The II Premier12 2019 was another major accomplishment for the Japanese Baseball National Team or Samurai Japan

When Horace Wilson, a professor of English at the Kasei Academy in Tokyo, introduced baseball in Japan in 1872 he was probably not previewing that one day Japan would have topped USA in the World Rankings. That day happened on 31 December 2014.

Since then the two nations have been swapping the top dog honours at the top of the WBSC Baseball World Rankings. And Japan cemented their spot as the world No. 1 after beating Korea in the 2019 Premier12 final on Sunday while USA finished fourth.

It's been a long road to the top for Japan. Professional baseball dates back to the 1920s in Japan. The Shoriki Akk Star club hosted an American All-Star team that featured both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. The success of the event accelerated the process that would lead to the first professional league (1936). The league split into two under the umbrella of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in 1950.

Another milestone was marked by the start of the Japan-USA College Series, to the credit of Nobuo Fujita and Rod Dedaux, just before Tokyo hosted a demonstration game during the 1964 Olympics.

Japan appeared on the international scene at the Amateur World Series, the tournament that will develop into the Baseball World Cup, in 1972. Four years later Japan earned a bronze medal. In 1980 the Amateur World Series were named unofficially the Baseball World Championship and Japan hosted the event. The national team finished third again.

Japan would earn three more bronze medals: in 1994, 2003 and 2007. The best result at that level was a silver medal, behind the hosts Korea, in the 1982 edition.

Japan participated in each edition of the Olympic Games that featured a baseball tournament. The Japanese National Team shocked America, winning the demonstration tournament at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics, before finishing second in 1988 in Seoul.

Japan failed to step on the Olympic podium at the Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008 Games. They finished second behind Cuba at the Atlanta Games in 1996 and earned a silver medal. Japan won silver medals both at the 1992 and the 2004 Olympics.

Japan was everybody's favourite at the Athens Olympics, but Australia surprisingly won, 1-0, the semifinal. Daisuke Matsuzaka, not yet the Dice-K who would help the Boston Red Sox win a World Series title, suffered the loss against the Aussies in Athens. He came back to help Japan win back-to-back World Baseball Classic titles (2006, 2009) earning MVP honours in both tournaments.

The Premier12 2015 represents, of course, another major disappointment for Japan. As in Athens Olympics, the heavily favourite Samurai Japan lost in the semifinals. Korea came from behind to reverse Japan's lead in the eighth and went on to win the tournament. Japan settled for a bronze medal.

Japan also won twice (1973 and 1997) the now-defunct Intercontinental Cup and also finished four times second at the U-18 level, originally knows as AAA Baseball World Cup: 1982, 2004, 2013, 2015.

Japan won 17 times the Asian Baseball Championship and earned four gold medals at the Asian Games.

WBSC prepares for Congress in Japan

WBSC prepares for Congress in Japan
Following the outstanding Premier12, WBSC will stage its biennial Congress in Sakai, Japan on Thursday.

Days after completing its flagship event – the WBSC Premier12 Baseball Championship – in Tokyo, the governing body for international baseball - the World Baseball Softball Confederation – will welcome its members to its biennial Congress at the Hotel Agora Regency Sakai in Japan on Thursday.

Key items on the agenda of the 3rd WBSC Congress include a look back at the extremely successful 2019 WBSC Premier12, reports on the exciting new products such as Baseball5, a scoring application and the latest courses from the Coaches Commission.

Members will also receive an update on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games where Baseball and Softball are expected to be one of the most popular sports at the Games. A review of all the WBSC events in 2019 will also be presented.

Open Workshops and Continental Association meetings will take place the day before the Congress while the WBSC Executive Board will meet on Tuesday.

For more info, you can visit the official page of the WBSC Congress here.

Japan, Chinese Taipei, the Philippines and China qualify for WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup 2020

Japan, Chinese Taipei, the Philippines and China qualify for WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup 2020
After claiming the top four positions at the BFA Women’s Baseball Asian Cup, Japan, Chinese Taipei, the Philippines and China qualified for WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup 2020.

World No. 1 Japan continues to set the pace after going through the BFA Women’s Baseball Asian Cup unbeaten to claim the 2019 edition in ZhongShan, China on Friday. Japan beat Chinese Taipei 2-1 in the final after beating their rivals 16-1 two days earlier.

The Philippines beat China 11-1 to finish third. All four teams qualified for the WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup 2020.

Japan has won the last six editions of the World Cup, and currently carry a 30-game World Cup win streak. They have held the No. 1 in the World Rankings since 2010.

WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari, NPB Commissioner Atsushi Saito agree: "More international baseball"

WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari, NPB Commissioner Atsushi Saito agree: "More international  baseball"
The Premier12 formula allows to acknowledge the whole of a baseball programme. Everybody will remember the excitment of the Tokyo Dome crowds

The second WBSC Premier12 confirmed the success of the innovative formula. The Premier12 slogan is the Global Baseball Battle and it applies not only to the wide range of teams who participated in the two-week tournament but also the qualification process where a team's ranking includes all age categories - U12, U15, U18, U23 and senior.

"The format based on our ranking works. The position in the ranking helps define the real strength of a baseball programme, since also youth events guarantee points," commented WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari after the championship game. "The Premier12 helps the internationalization and the globalization of baseball, this is a fact," added Fraccari. "The game needs to be global."

NPB Commissioner Atsushi Saito is also an advocate of international baseball. "We discussed together with WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari how to make baseball even more global. I think the globalization of soccer needs to be our benchmark. I really appreciate the way international soccer gets fans and players excited."

"We as the NPB are very much in favor of the globalization of baseball," added Saito. "I think it is a way to attract more people to baseball and fight back the growth of other sports. Soccer, rugby and table tennis recently enjoyed serious growth here in Japan. We are seriously competing with them for the attention of fans."

Saito, who was named NPB Commissioner two years ago, is an avid baseball fan. "We enjoyed very exciting games during the Premier12. All the participants did an excellent job and the fans enjoyed it very much. Global baseball is a lot of fun. The level of the teams was very high. Japan enjoyed the tournament the most, of course. I want to congratulate every team. They were able to create a lot of excitement."

Riccardo Fraccari congratulated the new WBSC Premier12 champions via his Twitter account

Seiya Suzuki tops Premier12 2019 individual stats

Seiya Suzuki tops Premier12 2019 individual stats
The Samurai Japan right fielder earned five individual titles: batting average, runs batted in, runs scored, slugging and on-base

Seiya Suzuki had an impressive offensive performance during the Premier12 2019, leading five individual stats after the end of the Super Round. The Japanese right fielder was the leader in batting average, runs batted in, runs scored, slugging and on-base, and earned the MVP of the tournament award. You can see all the individual stats here.

Suzuki batted .478 in seven games with 12 RBI and 9 runs scored, leading the three categories. He connected 11 hits in 23 at-bats, with 2 doubles, 2 triples and 3 homers. He also led the tournament in slugging percentage (1.130) and on-base percentage (.567).

In the pitching side, Chinese Taipei starter Chang Yi led the tournament in wins and ERA. Chang pitched 13.2 episodes, winning 2 games. He didn’t allow a single run in the tournament. He pitched 7 innings against Venezuela in the Opening Round and earned the win that sent Chinese Taipei to the Super Round. Then he shutout Korea by 6.2 innings to earn the win. He fanned a total of 10 opponents during the tournament. Hiroshi Kaino (JPN), Yudai Ono (JPN) and Hyeonjong Yang (KOR) also collected two wins, but with more earned runs or less innings pitched.

USA right fielder Brent Rooker was the home run king of the Premier12, with 3. He tied with Suzuki and Mexican outfielder Jonathan Jones, but he needed only 17 at-bats, while the Japanese had 23 and the Mexican 26.

Other two individual stats were led Japanese players. Specialist pinch runner Ukyo Shuto stole 4 bases for his team to lead the tournament. Finally, the outstanding defensive player of the tournament was Ryohsuke Kikuchi.

Kim Kyungmoon: “We must keep working to compete and win the Olympic Games”

Kim Kyungmoon: “We must keep working to compete and win the Olympic Games”
“Nobody is happy finishing second place in an important tournament like this”

Korea lost today agains Japan the Championship Game of the Premier12 2019. During the press conference the manager Kim Kyungmoon started to plan ahead to defend the Gold Medal in next year’s Olympic Games.

“First I want to say congratulations to Japan for winning the Premier12. Nobody is happy finishing second place in an important tournament like this. But our players worked hard in the past month, and we must keep working to compete and win the Olympic Games in August next year.”

Asked why did the team lost the match, the Korean manager answered: “As the manager of the team, this loss is my responsibility so I have no comments about it.”

Our best hitters didn’t have a good game today, that’s why baseball is not easy. However we’ve seen in our team a great grow in the young players, especially the pitchers, so probably for next year we need to form a new Korean National Team.”

Kim Haseong connected a 2-run homer in the first inning to take the early lead. “The Japanese pitchers often pitch the curve ball or the change up with 1-2 account, so I guess he would be coming with the curve ball, and I had very good timing to hit it.”

The Korean shortstop added: “Japan has very good players, but we also have a great team. I think we’ll keep this game in our minds, so we can do our best in the Olympics to claim the victory.”

Atsunori Inaba: “Winning the Premier12 and the Olympics has been our goal the last two years”

Atsunori Inaba: “Winning the Premier12 and the Olympics has been our goal the last two years”
Tonight Inaba won his first title as the Samurai Japan skipper

Atusnori Inaba won tonight his first title as the manager of the Japanese Baseball National Team. After being part of the staff in the Premier12 2015, today his team claimed the title defeating Korea by a score of 5-3.

“Since I became manager of the Japanese National Team two years ago our goal has been to win the Premier12 and the Olympics next year,” stated Inaba during the press conference. “I think all the players in our team had the same determination to become world number one.”

Analyzing the tournament, the Japanese skipper said: “Each game has been very challenging, but our players have worked in a very persistent manner and this allowed us tp win the event.”

Thinking ahead about Tokyo 2020, Inaba paid attention to Mexico and Korea, the two qualified teams to the Olympic Games. “Mexico has very powerful hitters, and also a very strong pitching staff. About Korea, they are a very good team. We played two times in the Premier12, and we were able to win both games. However, both games were very close. So thinking ahead in the Olympics, it’s going to be a very good match.”

Inaba had all the players involved with the team, giving playing time to all of them. “For this tournament, we changed our lineup every day, so all the players were able to start for our team. I tried to talk with the substitute players before each game, to make it clear that probably we would need them later in the game. And all the players understood it very well and came to the field with a very good preparation to play each game.”

Japan was losing 3-0 in the bottom of the first inning. An RBI double by Saiya Suzuki, who was named MVP of the Premier12, set the tone for Japan to come back and win the game later. “In the first inning the Korean team hit two home runs, so my thinking was ‘If it goes that way, it’s going to be a very difficult night for us’, "said Suzuki in the press conference. "Also the Korean pitcher is very good so I wanted to be aggressive in my at-bat, and this approach allowed me to hit the ball. Hayato Sakamoto run the bases very well and that also allowed him to score.”

Japan's Seiya Suzuki leads amazing All World Team

Japan's Seiya Suzuki leads amazing All World Team
Japan's Seiya Suzuki was named the MVP and was picked as the right fielder for the WBSC All-World Team

WBSC announced the Premier12 2019 All World Team after the Championship game.

Japan's right fielder Seiya Suzuki was named the tournament MVP.
Suzuki was also named one of the three outfielders of the All World Team.

"We have great hitters in front of me, and also behind me in the lineup," commented Suzuki. "I only was only thinking about connecting with the ball and score some runs. This mindset gave me the best results, and helped me win the MVP award.”

The All-World Team is made of 11 more players, including 4 representing the USA, two each on the rosters of Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei and one representing Mexico.

The WBSC Technical Commission selected two pitchers. Chang-Yi (Chinese Taipei) is the best starter. Brandon Dickson (USA) was named the best reliever. Their catcher is Erik Kratz (USA).

The infielders of the All-World Team are first baseman Bobby Dalbec (USA), second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi (Japan), third baseman Wang Wei-chen (Chinese Taipei), shortstop Kim Ha Seong (Korea).

The three outfielder are Suzuki Seiya, Jonathan Jones (Mexico), Lee Jung-ho (Korea).

Brent Rooker (USA) was picked as the All World Team designated hitter.

Japan beat Korea, climb on top of the world

Japan beat Korea, climb on top of the world
Tetsuto Yamada put Japan ahead in the bottom of the second with a three-run home run. Six pitchers limited Korea to three hits over the course of eight innings. Japan's Seiya Suzuki named the tournament MVP

Samurai Japan made a crowd of 44,960 ecstatic as they overcame an early deficit to defeat Korea, 5-3, in the final and became the champions of the WBSC Premier12 2019.

First baseman Tetsuto Yamada put Japan ahead in the bottom of the second with a three-run homer off Korea's superstar starter Yang Hyeonjong.

Japan's starter Shun Yamaguchi didn't go beyond the first inning. Six relievers limited Korea to three hits during the rest of the night.

Korea wasted no time in getting to Shun Yamaguchi. The Yomiuri Giants 15-game winner walked lead off hitter Lee Jung-hoo on six pitches and then allowed a home run to shortstop Kim Ha-seong.

Left fielder Kim Hyun-soo followed with a solo shot that gave Yang Hyeonjong, a former KBO MVP, a three-run lead to work with.

Yang Hyeonjong retired the first batter of the bottom of the first, then he walked shortstop Hayato Sakamoto. Seiya Suzuki added some more power hitting to his MVP candidature with a double off the wall and put Samurai Japan on the board.

The bottom of the second was the game-changer. Yang Hyeonjong walked catcher Aizawa. Second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi singled and Tetsuto Yamada added the three-run homer that gave Japan a lead they would not surrender.

Rei Takahashi and Kazuto Taguchi pitched two innings each and allowed three hits. The rest of the bullpen was perfect. Kota Nakagawa, Hiroshi Kaino, Yoshinubo Yamamoto and Yasuaki Yamasaki each pitched one inning and didn't allow Korea a runner, striking out six.

A great diving catch by second baseman Kim Sang-su prevented two Japanese runs in the bottom of the fourth.

Samurai managed to add an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh as Hideto Asamura singled to score Hayato Sakamoto.

Mexico heads to the Olympics, makes history

Mexico heads to the Olympics, makes history
"Baseball in our Country has accomplished a lot, but nothing of the sort," commented Federation President Enrique Mayorga. "This is really historic."

Mexico made history becoming the fourth team to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Games. The tricolores never appeared in the baseball tournament of the Olympics before.

"Mexican Baseball had important achievements in the past," commented Enrique Mayorga Betancourt, the President of the Federacion Mexicana de Béisbol (FEMEBE), the Mexican Federation.

"Qualifying for the Olympic Games is something different. It is really historic."

"I believe these kids really put their heart on the field for every game," added Mayorga.

"We played great. We underperformed only in one inning, the other day against Korea."

"I cannot even put into words how I feel," said Matt Clark, the Hublot Player of the Game against the USA.

"It was a hard-fought game."

Clark is willing to compete in Tokyo 2020: "This whole team will be there, I'm positive. I do not really see any team better than this."

Efren Navarro, who got the game-winning hit against the USA said: "We really feel proud. We will be representing Mexico and our flag in the Olympics. This is really historical."

Mexico will head to Tokyo with one goal.

"We love the bronze medal we just earned," commented manager Juan Castro.

"Next year we are coming back for the gold."

Mexico earned the Olympic spot of the Americas Region. Korea earned the spot granted through the WBSC Premier12 2019 to one National Team of the Asia/Oceania Region. Israel earned the Europe/Africa spot. Japan qualified as the host Nation.

Efren Navarro: “This is historic for Mexico”

Efren Navarro: “This is historic for Mexico”
Clark hit a clutch home run in the ninth inning to tie the game, while Navarro hit the game-winning RBI single in the tenth to send Mexico to the Olympics

Mexico defeated today USA, 3-2, in ten innings in a great team effort. However, the game had two heroes: Matt Clark and Efren Navarro.

“Qualify for the first time for the Olympic Games is historic for Mexico,” said Navarro, who hit the game-winning RBI single in the tenth to send Mexico to the Olympics, during the post-game interview.

“It’s a great honour. I respect a lot USA, they have great prospects that will be soon in the Major Leagues, but tonight was our night.”

“We all grow up dreaming on defending your country and playing in the Olympics. And being the first time for Mexico it’s such an honour for us and for the fans.”

Asked about the game-winning hit, Navarro said: “First we must credit the team. Our pitchers, the lineup, Clark, who homered to keep us in the game. Every at-bat is very important, I just tried to fight, to play for the team and thanks god I could do it.”

“We’re going to the Olympics,” said Clark, who tied the game in the bottom of the ninth with a solo dinger. “You can’t put it in words, is such a great achievement as a country, as players, as coaches… everybody that’s involved back home, the fans. It’s going to be an amazing experience for everybody to be able to go there and show the world what we have.”

Carlos Bustamante: “I took it as a challenge, getting three outs without runs allowed”

Carlos Bustamante: “I took it as a challenge, getting three outs without runs allowed”
Bustamante was the winning pitcher of the game in 1 inning of work

Carlos Bustamante entered the game in the tenth inning, with the game tied 2-2, and two runners on by the tiebreaking rule.

“We knew the game situation in the tenth. I took it as a challenge, getting three outs without runs allowed,” started Bustamante.

The first hitter he faced was dangerous Bobby Dalbec. “When I was ready to pitch, I saw him in position to bunt, he was giving me an out, so I just tried to throw a strike to get the out,” added the right-hander.

“We knew they could come to bunt, and they did it. Then with the bases loaded, I was thinking on a double play, but when I had the second strike, I tried to strike him out to close the inning with the next hitter. Thank god I could do it.”

“I’m very happy for the win, and for being able to represent my country in this event. Any team could have won today's game, as players we must give our best effort and we did it. We saw the opportunity, we took advantage of it and could win.”

Asked about his experience in the Premier12 he said “This is a very important tournament, I’m sure it will improve even more year after year.”

Juan Gabriel Castro: “I like this bronze medal, next year we’ll be back here for gold"

Juan Gabriel Castro: “I like this bronze medal, next year we’ll be back here for gold"
Castro: “I´m very happy for winning this game, earning the bronze medal and even more happy to qualify for the Olympic Games.”

Mexico made history today, qualifying to the Olympic Games for the first time in history. During the press conference after the game, Juan Gabriel Castro expresses his feelings about the game and the historic qualification to Tokyo 2020.

“I'm very happy about winning this game and earning the bronze medal. But I'm even more happy for the qualification for the Olympic Games. It’s the first time ever that Mexico will play Olympic Baseball, and I’m very proud of it.”

“I like this medal,” added Castro, showing his Premier12 Bronze Medal. “But next year we’ll come for the Gold Medal.”

Asked about the strategy to pitch in the extra-inning, Castro said: “We knew beforehand the tournament rules, and we talked about different kind of scenarios, to be ready. Obviously, every situation is different and tells you what to do, depending on the lineup and what you expect them to do. So there's not a single scenario, we were ready for every situation.”

USA began the tenth with runners on first and second and bunted to move the runners. Castro decided to intentionally walk Drew Waters to face Alec Bohm. “We had it in mind before. We knew that even when Bohm is a good hitter, I was very confident on my pitcher, so we took the chance to go for the double play. Luckily things were as we expected and we won the game in the next episode.”  

Carlos Bustamante pitched the tenth inning for Mexico, and escaped the jam with a strikeout and a fly ball. “I want to praise the performance of Bustamante in the tenth inning,” said Castro.

“He made his pitches and made the outs that allowed us to win.”

In the bottom of the tenth, Mexican manager sent Jones to bunt, even with two strikes. “The most important thing in this situation was to move the runners. We knew that if we could advance the runners, our chances to win would be better, even knowing that Jones was one of our best hitters during the tournament. Some times you need to play baseball, especially in these kind of tournaments, we played the small ball and finally it gave us the win.”

Efren Navarro became the hero with a game-winning, broken-bat single to center field. “

At the beginning of the inning, we knew Navarro would be the hero of the match. In that situation, after the bunt, we knew that he would be batting with the base loaded to win the game. I always trust in my hitters. Navarro had a great tournament, we know his experience and his quality as a hitter, so I felt very confident he would get the job done.”

Thinking on next year’s Olympic Games, Castro analysed the next months. “We’ll keep getting ready, even better than what we did for this event. As I said a few days ago at the press conference, Mexico is growing, you will hear Mexico’s name a lot of times and you’ll see Mexico in a lot of tournaments.”

“For Mexico, it was a great tournament for how we fought in Guadalajara and here in Japan. Even when we couldn't win the title, that was our final goal, it’s been a great experience. I liked the tournament. A great organization in Guadalajara and here in Tokyo, two incredible hosts. This motivate everyone to keep participating in this kind of events.”

Scott Brosius: “You win as a team, you lose as a team”

Scott Brosius: “You win as a team, you lose as a team”
USA manager congratulated Mexico for his qualification to Tokyo 2020 and reflected about the game

USA manager Scott Brosius showed for the press conference after losing the Bronze Medal Game of the Premier12 2019 against Mexico. In a very close game, Mexico tied the game in the ninth and then earned the walkoff win in the tenth to qualify to Tokyo 2020.

“First of all, I want to congratulate the Mexican team for winning today,” started Brosius.

“We played them twice in this tournament, and they beat us both times. Today, it was a very good game, we are a bit disappointed about the result, we played well, we made a huge effort, but Mexico found the clutch hitting at the end of the game.”

Matt Clark hit a tying-game home run in the bottom of the ninth. The pitch before he stopped the swing just in time to avoid the strikeout. Brosius reflected: “The nature of the check swing is this, for the defensive team is a strike, and for the offensive team it is not. In the end it’s a matter of appreciation. You must give credit to Clark, that homered the next pitch in a clutch situation.”

What should USA do better to get the win? “You win as a team, you lose as a team. It’s not the time for blaming anyone for this result, or regret in terms of what we did or what we didn’t,” answered the manager.

“We pitched the ball extremely well and our defence was great. We pitched well enough to win every game in the tournament. I think maybe what we could do better is to cash in the opportunities we had to score more runs.”

Asked about the Americas Qualifier in March next year, Brosius said: “It’s too early to think about that. The game finished just 20 minutes ago, we have another chance to qualify in March, so we have time to think about it.”

Navarro singles in extras, brings Mexico to the 2020 Olympics

Navarro singles in extras, brings Mexico to the 2020 Olympics
Matthew Clark tied the game on a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth, the first baseman brought tie-break rule runner Salazar home after a neverending duel with reliever Thielbar

First baseman Efren Navarro singled on a broken-bat blooper in the bottom of the tenth off left handed reliever Caleb Thielbar to bring home Javier Salazar. Mexico beat the USA, 3-2, to earn the WBSC Premier12 bronze medal and the spot of the Americas Region in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Navarro fouled off as many as four consecutive pitches before looking at a ball. He singled on the eighth offering of his at-bat after going 0-for-4 and striking out three times in the game.

"It was a very important at-bat and I'm grateful that I had this chance," said Efren Navarro to Jon Morosi after the game. "You must credit all of the team for this accomplishment. The pitchers, Matt Clark, who kept us in the game with his home run."

Mexico's manager Juan Castro decided to bunt in the bottom of the tenth despite having red-hot Jonathan Jones at the plate.

"Jones is the best hitter on the team," commented Castro during the post-game press conference.

"I needed the small ball there and I was confident he could move the runners also with a two-strike count."

The center fielder went down 0-2 in the count against Brandon Dickson, then advanced the tie-break runners to second and third with a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt. The USA walked second baseman Esteban Quiroz to load the bases, then went to the bullpen.
Left-handed batter Navarro got the game winning-hit off left-handed reliever Caleb Thielbar.

The same approach hadn't proved successful for the USA in the top half of the inning. Manager Scott Brosius got a perfect sacrifice bunt from Bobby Dalbec, the same hitter who had put the USA ahead in the top of the seventh.

Mexico's reliever Carlos Bustamante intentionally walked right fielder Rooker to load the bases. He then struck out third baseman Alec Bohm on a breaking ball outside and got out of the inning as shortstop Jake Cronenworth popped out to shortstop.

The USA came just three out short of the win. Noah Song allowed only a walk in 1.1 innings and handed the ball to closer Brandon Dickson with a one-run lead to work with in the bottom of the ninth. Designated hitter Matthew Clark homered on the third pitch to tie the game.

"I was looking for something high in the zone," said Clark after being awarded as the Hublot Player of the Game "He hanged a split-finger and I was fortunate enough to make the most of it."

Carlos Bustamante earned the win as the sixth pitcher to step to the mound for Mexico. Juan Castro used three more relievers after starter Arturo Reyes: Brennan Bernardino, Jesus Rios and Eduardo Vera.