After a long and frustrating season, Munetaka Murakami’s come-from-behind, goodbye time leads to his first WBC final in 14 years. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

After a long and frustrating season, Munetaka Murakami’s come-from-behind, goodbye time leads to his first WBC final in 14 years.

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Munetaka Murakami hit a one-run shot in the ninth inning (Photo: Kyodo News)

The Japanese national team, aiming for its first victory in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) since 2009, moved to the U.S. to face the Mexican national team in the semi-finals on April 21. With one run in the ninth inning, Munetaka Murakami delivered a two-run double over the center field wall to win the game 6-5.

I struck out a lot and was frustrated a lot, and my teammates helped me out a lot,” Murakami said. It was the first final since 2009, and the barrier of the top four was difficult to overcome. Tomorrow will be the last time I can play with this team. I want to make it the best game I can.

After hitting the game-winning home run, the hero was doused with water by his fellow players on the field, and he smiled shyly at the end, saying, “It’s a little cold.

21-year-old Akinori Sasaki, who took the mound to start, was full of feeling as he said in his tightened expression at the press conference the day before.

An accident occurred in the second inning when the score was 0-0. With one out and a runner at first base, Urias hit Sasaki in the stomach with a pitch. His trainer and pitching coach Yoshii immediately rushed to the scene, but Sasaki was “fine,” he assured them. He got the next batter, Trejo, to ground out, but he was baptized by the Majors in the fourth inning.

With two outs and runners on first and second, he gave up three runs in the left field stands to Urias, who was hit by a pitch in the abdomen in the second inning. Last December, Sasaki and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who pitched second that day, visited the “Lawn Depot Park” ballpark in Miami, Florida, the site of the game, and the locker room to imagine pitching in this game. However, they sank before the good hitters of the Major League Baseball Brewers.

The Brewers were hoping to cover for Sasaki, but in the fifth inning, Mexican left-hander Arrozalena made a good catch on Kazuma Okamoto’s pitch that was about to go into the left field stands. Murakami struck out three times when the opportunity presented itself, and the team was unable to score any runs.

With three runs in the seventh inning and two outs, Masanao Yoshida caught Cardinals left-hander Romero’s low ball on the inside corner and hit a ball just short of the light pole to tie the game. Yoshida returned to the bench and jumped into Ohtani’s big chest to express his joy, but in the 8th inning, right after tying the game, Yamamoto and Kyoki Yuasa allowed timely hits, and the score was again tied at 3-5, two runs up.

In the bottom of the inning, Hotaka Yamakawa’s sacrifice fly brought the score within one, and the ninth inning arrived. Ohtani caught the first pitch from Guayecos, the Mexican guardian god, and hit a double. He ran hard, helmet flying off his face, and barked several times with his hands outstretched on the basepaths. Yoshida drew a walk, and with no outs and runners on first and second, it was Murakami, who had been struggling with three strikeouts in the game, who came in to end the inning.

On March 15, Yu Darvish appeared on baseball commentator Yutaka Takagi’s YouTube channel, “Yutaka Takagi Takagi Yutaka,” and revealed Murakami’s struggles.

It was in early March, just after Shohei Ohtani left the Angels’ camp and returned to Japan, when he was watching him practice hitting a powerful arch at the Bantelin Dome in Nagoya. Darvish recalls, “I was watching him practice hitting.

<While everyone was saying how great Otani’s batting was, Murakami was angry. He kept saying, ‘I don’t want to lose. (He hit 56 runs (last season), and I think he thought he could win somewhere. (But (when he saw Ohtani’s hitting practice), he must have thought that he couldn’t win now.

Seeing his frustration, Darvish <thought this feeling was very good>. When Murakami returned to the locker room, he asked Darvish earnestly about the supplements and training that Otani was taking.

Murakami’s feeling of “I can’t compete with Otani right now” dragged him into the batter’s box, but he blew away his misgivings with a blow in a deadly situation in which an out would have ended his career.

After the game, Otani, who had led off the ninth inning with a double, raised his voice.

I think Mune (Murakami) was really struggling, but he showed good form at the end. I knew that if I got on base, I could always score a run. I think there were times when the whole team was on the verge of breaking down, but we didn’t give up until the very end and kept on pitching, and that’s how we ended up winning (with a game-winning goal). (Tomorrow’s game against the U.S.) is the best stage and the best opponent. I’m sure I will be nervous at times, but I want to enjoy it. I want to prepare myself to the best of my ability.

Ohtani is not only a hitter, but he also expressed his willingness to take the mound depending on how the game unfolds. What dramatic drama awaits us tomorrow?

Murakami’s competitive spirit had turned into a competitive spirit after seeing Ohtani’s greatness up close. Will he be able to blow it out of the water with his sayonara hit (photo: Afro)?

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