Japan players celebrate after the award ceremony following the Asia Professional Baseball Championship Final between South Korea and Japan at Tokyo Dome on November 19, 2023 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Gene Wang/Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Japan won its second Asia Professional Baseball Championship to beat South Korea in 10 innings 4-3 with a game-winning single from second baseman Makoto Kadowaki.
Kadowaki was named the MVP of the four-day 2023 APBC.
Japan won their second international senior event of 2023, as they won the 2023 World Baseball Classic back in March, beating the United States 3-2 in the championship game at loanDepot Park in Miami.
Japan won the bronze at the 19th Asian Games back in early October and beat China 4-3 at Shaoxing Baseball and Softball Sports Culture Center in Hangzhou, China.
In the top of the third inning, South Korea got on the board first when first baseman Si-hwan Roh roped a two-run single into left center field and second baseman Hye-sung Kim and third baseman Do-yeong Kim came in to score to make it 2-0.
During the top of the fifth inning, Japan manager Hirokazu Ibata pulled starting pitcher Tatsuya Imai , who threw four innings with 77 facing 20 batters allowing one earned run, five hits, two walks, and four strikeouts during Sunday’s win.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Japan got on the board when first baseman Shugo Maki launched a solo home run over the left field wall to make it 2-1.
South Korea starting pitcher Gwak Been threw five innings with 88 pitchers facing 23 batters allowing one earned run, five hits, six walks and eight strikeouts.
During the bottom of the sixth inning, Japan tied the game at two when third baseman Teruaki Sato lifted a sacrifice fly to center field and right fielder Chusei Mannami came in to even the score 2-2.
Japan’s bullpen halted the South Korea offense before the start of the top of the 10th inning by allowing three hits, no earned runs, no walks, and five strikeouts.
South Korea’s bullpen went into extra innings allowing one earned run, two hits, one walk and two strikeouts.
In the top of the 10th inning, South Korea started with Kim on second base and center fielder Ji-hoon Choi on first to begin the inning. Japan went to their bullpen, sending Kojiro Yoshimura in the game to replace Reito Taguchi.
The second batter of the inning, right fielder Dong-hee Yoon, ripped a single to center field scoring Kim to give South Korea a 3-2 lead.
During the bottom of the 10th inning, South Korea went to their bullpen, putting Hae-young Jeong into the game to replace reliever Ji-hyun Choi.
Japan shortstop Kaito Kozono started the inning on second and designated hitter Kyota Fujiwara started on first base to begin the bottom of the 10th inning.
The third batter of the inning, Japan catcher Shogo Sakakura, lofted a sacrifice fly to center field and Kozono came in to score to the game up at 3-3.
A few batters later, Kadowaki smacked a game-winning single and Fujiwara came in to score the winning run to help Japan win their second APBC Title over South Korea 4-3 in front of their home crowd at the Tokyo Dome.
The APBC event does not count towards the World Baseball Rankings through the World Baseball Softball Confederation. The APBC is operated by all four leagues in Asia and Australia: the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan, the Korean Baseball Organization, the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan, and the Australian Baseball League.
The next APBC has yet to be announced. The second APBC was supposed to be scheduled for 2021 but was moved to 2023 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. All four leagues will have to discuss with WBSC officials if the tournament will be scheduled for November 2025 or November 2027 for the next APBC event.
The last Asia Professional Baseball Championship was held in 2017 with Japan beating South Korea 7-0 in the championship game and Seibu Lions infielder Shuta Tonosaki being named the MVP in the first year of the event.
No. 1 ranked Japan will play in their next international senior event in the Asian Baseball Championship at the Taipei Dome, Xinzhuang Baseball Stadium, and the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium from December 3-10 with host nation Chinese Taipei at No. 5, No. 4 South Korea, No. 32 Philippines, No. 37 Hong Kong, No. 43 Thailand, No. 49 Pakistan, and No. 55 Palestine.
All-APBC 2023 Team
(Position, Name, Team, League)
NPB- Nippon Professional Baseball
ABL- Australian Baseball League
CPBL – Chinese Professional Baseball League
KBO – Korean Baseball Organization
Pitcher – Chihiro Sumida – Saitama Seibu Lions – NPB
Catcher – Alex Hall – Perth Heat – ABL
First Baseman – Si-hwan Roh – Hanwha Eagles – KBO
Second Baseman – Makoto Kadowaki – Yomiuri Giants – NPB
Third Baseman – Teruaki Sato – Hanshin Tigers – NPB
Shortstop- Ju-won Kim – NC Dinos – KBO
Outfielder – Shota Morishita – Hanshin Tigers – NPB
Outfielder – Chusei Mannami – Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters – NPB
Outfielder – Tien-Hsin Kuo – Wei Chuan Dragons – CPBL
Designated Hitter – Chieh-Hsien Chen – Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions – CPBL