22/02/2020 - 01/03/2020

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U-18 Men's Softball World Cup 2020 - Official Payoff

Japan 9-2 Australia: Mimoto, Nishimori, Yagi shine as Japan claims gold

Japan 9-2 Australia: Mimoto, Nishimori, Yagi shine as Japan claims gold
01/03/2020
Japan redeemed their 2018 final loss to Australia with a 9-2 win at the 2020 U-18 Men's Softball World Cup. They now have three gold, four silver and four bronze medals.

Rui Mimoto and Masaru Nishimori gave a potent performance on offence, while Koka Yagi displayed stellar pitching for Japan to complete their undefeated golden run with a 9-2 victory over Australia at the U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup at Calquhoun Park in Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Mimoto contributed with an inside-the-park home run, 4 RBIs and 2 runs, while Nishimori collected a home run, 2 RBIs and 2 runs to lead the Japanese batters. On the pitching side, Yagi pitched in five innings with four strikeouts.

The victory reversed a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Australia in the 2018 final and followed Japan's 5-2 win over Australia in the Super Round.

It also saw Japan collect their 11th medal in this age group - including the past eight editions - although it's only their third gold, having previously won in 2016 and the inaugural edition in 1981.

Australia started the game productively, scoring in their first two episodes. In the first inning, Hayden Shaw connected an RBI single to left field to plate Jeremy Garland, who had led off the game with a single. One inning later, Caleb Van De Griendt homered down the left field to put the game 2-0.

Mimoto responded for Japan with his inside-the-park home run down the right field line in the bottom of the second inning to cut down the lead to one at 2-1.

Japan took the lead in the bottom of the third. With two runners on, Mimoto hit an RBI single to right field to drive in Nishimori and Masaya Ohashi; the Australian right fielder tried to make a quick play and assist to home, but the ball slipped under his glove, allowing Mimoto to round the bases, swinging the momentum to their side with the 4-2 lead.

Japan exploded in the fourth showing masterclass batting and base running for a five-run inning. Yamamoto started the rally as he scored off an error, followed by a 2-run shot by Masaru Nishimori to the left field. Ohashi followed with a double and then scored on a fielder's choice by Nagayoshi, who later crossed the plate with the last run of the tournament on a sacrifice fly, to close the inning with a 9-2 advantage.

Australia needed a run in the fifth inning to extend the game but Yagi stepped up his game as he retired Joshua Routledge, Garland and James Riley to close the game and secure the gold medal.

This is the third World Championship title for Japan in the youth men's softball global stage. They won the first edition of the event in 1981 in Edmonton, Canada, and waited 35 years to claim the title again, as they became world champions in 2016 in Midland. Japan has played four of the last five finals of the youth event, winning the decisive match two times.

For Australia, this is the first-ever silver medal, since they won the first five world championship games played (1997, 2001, 2005, 2008 and 2018), being the most decorated program in the world.