Premier 12 comes to town
Japan 3, Australia 2
Pinch-runner Ukyo Shuto played hero by stealing second and third and then dashing past the tag at home on a seventh-inning two-out drag bunt to score the tying run as Samurai Japan came from behind in an unconvincing performance against Australia.
The Premier 12 super round hosts scored the go-ahead run in the eighth on a bases-loaded walk to eke out a 3-2 win in their opener.
Center fielder Aaron Whitefield robbed Yoshihiro Maru of an RBI flair single to end Japan’s third inning after Australia took a 1-0 lead in the top of the inning. George Darryl doubled off Shun Yamaguchi and scored on Tim Kennelly’s single.
In the fourth, Whitefield singled with two outs and scored from first on Mitch Nilsson’s double.
Seiya Suzuki made it 2-1 in the fourth, when he blasted his third home run in three games.
Mexico remains unbeaten
The Premier 12 Super Round kicked off Monday afternoon in Chiba, as Mexico shut out Taiwan 2-0 in a great pitchers’ duel with former Tampa Bay Rays and San Diego Padres catcher Roman Solis blasting a monstrous homer off Chiang Shao-ching, who struck out eight over 5-2/3 innings while allowing two runs.
Nippon Ham Fighters outfielder Wang Po-jung went 1-for-4 and was caught stealing, while lefty Chen Kuan-yu had the privilege of representing Taiwan in the home park of his NPB club, the Lotte Marines. Chen struck out two in 1-1/3 innings.
Mexico’s Arturo Reyes allowed two hits and two walks over five scoreless innings to get the win.
The other four teams, Japan, Australia, the United States and South Korea began play later in the day.
Two Olympic qualifying places are up for grabs. One will go to either Mexico or the United States and the other to either South Korea, Australia or Taiwan.
South Korea 5, United States 1
Kim Jae Hwan hit a three-run first-inning home run and South Korea never trailed despite giving up 13 hits as the United States left 14 runners on base in its loss at Tokyo Dome.
The win kept the three group winners, Mexico, Japan and South Korea undefeated through four games.