WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC
Has Japan ever won the World Baseball Classic? How many times?
Samurai Japan are one of the most successful nations in the four previous editions of the World Baseball Classic.
After brushing Italy aside in Thursday’s quarter-final of the 2023 World Baseball Classic, Japan became the only team to reach the semi-finals in all 5 tournaments since the inception of the competition back in 2006.
Despite a brief wobble around the fifth innings where Italy looked like they might get back into it, Samurai Japan then proceeded to brush aside the European team aside.
For the bulk of the contest, Japan were simply ruthless, and showed their class throughout, keeping a cool head and putting Italy to the sword when it mattered. Eyebrows were raised though when Stampo put Shohei out after 3 balls but apart from that it was a serious game from the tournament favourites and they fully deserve their place in the final four.
Japan now face Mexico, on March 20 in the semi-final and that will be a fascinating clash as the Asian side are desperate to secure a hat-trick of World Baseball Classic wins.
Previous Samurai Japan wins
The venue for the first ever World Baseball Classic final was Petco Park in San Diego (home of the MLB side San Diego Padres) and pitted pre-tournament favourites Japan against Cuba.
Samurai Blue got off to a flyer scoring four runs in the first innings and despite a late rally from the Cuban side, Japan held on to record a 10-6 win lifting the WBC trophy for the first time.
Three years later, California, once again hosted the final with the game being staged at the iconic Dodger stadium in Los Angeles. A win over the US in the semi-final set up a final against neighbours South Korea with the Japanese side winning out on the day 5-3.
Both the 2013 and 2017 WBC’s saw Japan having to settle for the bronze as the edged out the Netherlands in the 3rd/4th place games in both editions of the competition.
Hideki Kuriyama’s team are now just two wins away from securing a hat-trick of WBC triumphs and need top overcome the surprise package of the competition in Mexico with USA/Venezuela and Cuba standing in their way in thenothe half of the draw.