Uwasawa Shutout Puts Japan in Gold Medal Round; World’s Top Spot

Japan will now replace the United States as the number one baseball country in the world, surpassing them after their performance in the 21 and under World Cup. Their two wins over the major leaguers, which is composed of players of different nationalities seems to cement that position, even though those games are exhibitions. The United States chose not to enter a team in this event.

Japan shutout Korea yesterday 1-0 behind two excellent pitching performances, one by Naoyuki Uwasawa of the Nippon Ham Fighters, who is showing the world Shohei Otani is not the only young pitching prospect on the team. Korea had an excellent pitching performance from lefty Kim-Jun Lim.

Uwasawa worked seven innings, allowing only five hits while striking out 12. He was sitting in the high 80s to low 90s with his fastball, allowing Korea to advance just one runner past first base in the seven innings he worked. In the second inning Juh-Yun Kim led off with a single, stole second and advanced to third on a bunt. With one out Uwasawa struck out Ye-Il Seo and got Jeong-Yeol An to ground to short to end the threat. Uwasawa struck out at least one hitter in every inning, striking out the side in the third.

Ki-Jun Lim deserved a better fate. He matched Uwasawa pitch for pitch, not allowing a hit until the fifth inning. He put himself in trouble by walking Aoi Enomoto with one out. Kenya Wakatsuki swung at a high pitch on a hit and run, slapping a liner into right for a base hit to move Enomoto to third. Kenjo Takeda swung at the first pitch and roped a one hopper at the shortstop. It was a tailor made double play if he could have played the hop, but the ball sizzled past him allowing the only run to score. Lim allowed only five hits in his seven innings of work, but one of his five walks came back to haunt him.

Japan had an opportunity to score some insurance runs in the seventh, a Takeda single putting runners on first and third with just one out. Takeda got picked off at first by Lim. A walk and hit batsman loaded the bases but Taisei Makihara flied out to right to end the threat.

Japan relied on Kazuto Taguchi and Nomura Ryosuke to pitch the last two innings to secure the win. Ryosuke allowed a leadoff single by Doh-Yun Kim that was hit off the end of the bat into left field. Ryosuke retired the next three hitters, the last two on strikeouts to secure the save.

Game Notes: Uwasawa wears the number 18 which signifies he is the ace of this staff. This win was more important than tomorrow’s game against Taiwan since it secured a place in the gold medal championship match. Win or lose against Taiwan today will still put them in the gold medal match…There was a larger Japanese crowd for the game today than against the Czechs. No admission for this game…Seiya Suzuki can fly. He hit a two out triple into the gap that had the third base coach debating whether to send him home since there were two outs…Korea had two caught stealings. One was a batter’s interference call when in the umpires discretion the hitter interfered with the catcher trying to make the throw for a strike out throw him out double play. The Korean manager argued but failed to change the Dutch umpire’s mind…Seung-ho Kang almost tied the game up, sending the ball deep to the warning track in right field in the seventh inning…The Korean manager likes to wait until the hitter approaches the plate before he announces a pinch hitter for him. There is probably a strategy to that approach, but it would seem to me an embarrassment to the hitter.

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