Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout had dreamed of this moment, along with millions of fans throughout Japan and the United States: the two biggest stars on the planet, longtime teammates, facing each other at 60 feet, 6 inches, the world title at stake. Of course, the count went full. And then Ohtani got Trout to swing under a slider on the outside corner, sealing Japan’s 3-2 win Tuesday night over the US and its first World Baseball Classic title since 2009.
- “This is the best moment in my life,” Ohtani said through a translator, per the AP.
- “I think every baseball fan wanted to see that,” said Trout, Ohtani’s Los Angeles Angels teammate since 2018. “Did you think it was going to end in any other way?”
Ohtani had given a pregame pep talk in Japan’s clubhouse. “Let’s stop admiring them,” he said, according to a Los Angeles Times translation of the video posted on the website Samurai Japan. “If you admire them, you can’t surpass them. We came here to surpass them, to reach the top. For one day, let’s throw away our admiration for them and just think about winning.” Japan then joined the Dominican Republic in 2013 as the only unbeaten champions of baseball’s premier national team tournament. The Samurai Warriors went 7-0 and outscored opponents 56-18.
(Read more World Baseball Classic stories.)