The World Baseball Classic, the series loathed by MLB management for the potential of injury to valuable MLB players, is underway in Japan, but it was not an auspicious beginning for Australia, as it was beaten by the hosts 4 – 1 in an entertaining game.
Entertaining, that is, but for the outcome.
Japan is the world number one ranked international team, and the Aussie diamond-iers gave them an early scare when Allan de San Miguel smacked one out of the park in the second inning, but that proved to be Australia’s sole tally, the lead surrendered in the fifth inning when starting pitcher Tim Atherton was pulled after giving up two hits at the start of the fifth and pushed a runner across on a sacrifice fly off reliever Lachlan Wells.
The tie remained in force until the seventh inning, when Sho Nakata gave Japan the lead with a solo homer.
Another blast, this one worth two runs, was added by Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh in the eighth inning.
Atherton played in the MLB minor leagues for five seasons and welcomed the opportunity to display his ability in hopes of earning another U.S. stint.
Australia is ranked number 10 in the world, so optimism over the ability of the Aussies to hang tough against Japan was evident in manager Tim Deeble’s post-game comments.