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Australia’s baseball aces suffer the power of Ohtani

Australia’s baseball men have lost their unbeaten record in the World Baseball Classic, beaten by home favourites Japan 7-1 in Tokyo.

March 13, 2023
By Ian Chadband
13 March 2023

Australia’s breakthrough baseball men have finally been brought down to earth, crushed by the power of Japan’s super-slugging sports hero Shohei Ohtani in Tokyo.

Dave Nilsson’s Australian team had opened the World Baseball Classic with two terrific victories over world No.4 team Korea and China but they met their match on Sunday, being hammered 7-1 by the hosts and favourites at the Tokyo Dome.

Their defeat was effectively sealed from the spectacular moment in the first inning when Ohtani, one of the MLB’s biggest stars and a Japanese icon, smacked a massive three-run home run to right field which landed over 136m away, landing just below his vast image on an video advertising board.

It was the prelude to a terrific display from the Los Angeles Angels superstar, who went on to have four RBIs which leaves Australia’s hopes of advancing in the global tournament on a knife-edge in group B.

Australia, though, can still seal an historic first match in the knockout stages in Wednesday’s last-eight by clinching second place in the group with victory over Czech Republic on Monday afternoon. 

It’s a huge game for the team, with defeat against the Czechs guaranteeing their elimination.

Sunday’s Australian highlights were Alex Hall’s home run in the ninth inning and the moment when Todd Van Steensel struck out Ohtani.

They could also take some consolation in the fact that their six-run defeat was the closest any team has come to a Japanese powerhouse team whose players earn an estimated $US110 million ($A167 million) a year between them.

With AP

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