WBC: Japan survives Opener against Brazil
Defending World Baseball Classic champion needs three runs in 8th to down debutant

Fukuoka. Two-time champion Japan survived a scare against Qualifier winner Brazil to win the World Baseball Classic opener in Fukuoka by a score of 5-3. Three runs in the top of the eighth turned a 2-3 deficit into the victory.

Brazil, which had ousted Panama, Colombia and Nicaragua at the WBC Qualifier in Panama City in November, had the better start into the contest. Paulo Orlando scored in the bottom of the first thanks to a RBI single by Leonardo Reginatto.

Japan answered through Yoshio Itoi’s RBI single and the tie in the top of the third and took its first lead with a sac fly by Hayato Sakamoto one frame later. However Brazil didn’t back down and evened the score right away with a RBI single by Reinaldo Sato in the bottom of the fourth. The team of Hall of Famer Barry Larkin even regained the lead in the fifth, when Leonardo Reginatto once again drove in Paulo Orlando – this time with a RBI double.

But this was not enough to pull off the upset on the first day of the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Japan struck back in the eighth, avoiding the stumble. Hirokazu Ibata made it 3-3 with a RBI single. Shinnosuke Abe’s force out at second got Japan a fourth run. Nobuhiro Matsuda singled to cap the three-run rally.

Brazil out-hit Japan 9-7 in the game and also had the two lone extra base hits thanks to a pair of doubles by Leonardo Reginatto, who had three hits on the day. Masahiro Tanaka had received the starting nod for Team Nippon, issuing one unearned run on four hits in two innings. Rafael Fernandes gave up two hits, a run and three walks in three frames as Brazil’s starter. Tadashi Settsu (W, 1-0) picked up the win in relief, Oscar Nakaoshi (L, 0-1) the loss.

Brazil will take on Cuba in the second game of the first-round group in Fukuoka on Sunday. Japan will take on China in the evening game.

(From IBAF Website)