Japan rally late to defeat Venezuela in Group B opener

Japan rally late to defeat Venezuela in Group B opener
Japan have staged a late comeback to defeat Venezuela at Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium in their Premier12 opener.

World no. 1 Japan made a late comeback against a gallant no. 9 ranked Venezuela to record a 8-4 win in their 2019 WBSC Premier12 opener at Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium.

Venezuela held a two-run lead in the bottom of the eighth, but a six-run inning from Japan changed the game, as Venezuela surrendered two hits and seven walks.

After a dominant start by Felix Doubront (4IP, 1H, 0ER, 3K), the Venezuelan bullpen failed to finish the job, as the Japanese offence eventually pulled away.

Doubront and Japanese starting pitcher Shun Yamaguchi both surrendered baserunners in the first three innings, but neither side could capitalise on their offensive opportunities.

Venezuela showed plenty of fight in the middle innings, plating three runs after surrendering a lead to the world’s number one ranked team. Carlos Rivero doubled to score Balbino Fuenmayor to tie the game at two, while RBIs from Dixon Machado and Herlis Rodriguez gave Venezuela a two-run lead with three innings to play.

But the six-run eighth proved the difference, as star closer Yasuaki Yamasaki slammed the door and sealed Japan’s first win of the Premier12.

Hiroshima Carp star Ryosuke Kikuchi was one of Japan’s best, going 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI.

Japan face world no. 11 Puerto Rico tomorrow afternoon, while Venezuela face no. 4 ranked Chinese Taipei tomorrow night in Taichung.