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Shohei Ohtani stars on mound, at plate as Japan trounces China

World Baseball Classic: Japan opens pool play in Tokyo, seeking 3rd title

Japan's Shohei Ohtani pitches against China in the World Baseball Classic on March 9 in Tokyo.   © Reuters

TOKYO (Field Level Media) -- Shohei Ohtani belted a two-run double and tossed four shutout innings to lead Japan to an 8-1 victory over China on Thursday in the opening game of Pool B action at the World Baseball Classic in Tokyo.

The Los Angeles Angels star deposited a pitch from Weiyi Wang off the wall in left-center field to plate both Kensuke Kondoh and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar and give Japan a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning. Ohtani also singled during his team's four-run eighth inning to reach base for the fourth time.

Ohtani allowed one hit and struck out five batters for Japan, which is bidding for its third championship in the event. It won the championship in 2006 and 2009 and finished in third place in 2013 and 2017.

China's Jin Yang ripped a line drive to left-center field off Ohtani for a single with one out in the fourth inning. Ohtani responded by striking out the next two batters to end the inning.

Shosei Togo relieved Ohtani to start the fifth inning and struck out the side. He fanned four more batters during his three innings of work, but China's Pei Liang crushed a 2-2 pitch over the wall in left field for a solo homer in the sixth.

Shugo Maki gave Japan a 4-1 lead after leading off the seventh inning with a homer over the wall in right-center field. Tetsuto Yamada had an RBI single, Sosuke Genda followed with a bases-loaded walk and Takuya Kai ripped a two-run double to cap a four-run eighth inning.

Nootbaar singled to lead off the game before coming around to score when Xiang Wang issued four-pitch walks to each of the next three batters. Wang settled down and induced an infield popup and an inning-ending double play to limit the damage.

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