Aussies go down in World Baseball Classic opener
9 March 2017
BASEBALL: A gallant Australian team kept in touch with world #1 Japan for most of the game, however two late home runs saw Japan claim a tense 4-1 victory at the Tokyo Dome.
Allan de San Miguel stunned the 40,000 strong crowd at the Tokyo Dome, with a solo home run in the second inning. De San put a charge in a ball that landed just over the fence in right field, and gave Australia an early lead.
In his first ever World Baseball Classic appearance, Tim Atherton starred, tossing four innings, only giving up one earned run. The right-handed Kempsey native ran into some trouble early, however proved a consistent handful for the talented Japanese hitters, finishing with two strikeouts.
Team Australia Manager Jon Deeble was thoroughly impressed by the team’s performance.
“Sugano was throwing up to 97mph tonight, that’s tough to hit in the big leagues,” Deeble said.
“I thought our guys had some really good at-bats tonight, we really took it up to Japan and swung the bats pretty well.”
A young star on the rise in Australian baseball, Lachlan Wells looked right at home on the world stage. The 19-year-old Minnesota Twins prospect struck out two Japanese hitters in two innings of relief, as well as not allowing a base-runner.
Two home runs late saw Japan edge ahead with Sho Nakata’s seventh inning solo shot followed by a two run blast from Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh in the eighth inning.
Australia’s next game at the World Baseball Classic sees them take on world #18 China, with the game shown live on ESPN. First pitch is scheduled for 7pm local (9pm AEDT).