Infielder Shugo Maki of Japan hits a single in the ninth inning during the Asia Professional Baseball Championship game between Chinese Taipei and Japan at Tokyo Dome on November 16, 2023 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Gene Wang/Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Japan won their first game of the 2023 Asian Professional Baseball Championship, shutting out Chinese Taipei 4-0 on Thursday night at the Tokyo Dome.
The Japan pitching staff faced 32 batters and allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out nine during Thursday’s win. Starter Yuji Akahoshi threw 4.2 innings, allowing three hits, one walk, and striking out three.
Chinese Taipei’s pitching staff faced 37 batters, allowing four earned runs, 10 hits, one walk, and two strikeouts.
The first run of the game came in the top of the seventh inning, when Japan left fielder Shota Morshita drove a solo home run over the left wall.
A few batters later, Chinese Taipei manager Chen Jinfeng called upon relief pitcher Wang Chih-Hsuan to replace starting pitcher Gu Lin Ruei-Yang. Ruei-Yang threw 6.2 innings while throwing 86 pitches and facing 22 batters he allowed three hits, one earned run, and two strikeouts during Thursday’s loss.
Japan got their final three runs of the game in the top of the ninth inning. Right fielder Chusei Mannami hit into a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded and no outs, and Chinese Taipei shortstop Ma Chieh-sen got the force out at second with a dive to the bag while Morishita came into score to extend the lead to 2-0. The next batter, Japan catcher Shogo Sakakura, ripped an RBI single to center field and first baseman Maki Shugo came in to score to make it 3-0.
Jinfeng would go to his bullpen again, bringing in Chien Po-Ching to replace relief pitcher Tseng Jyun-Yue. Tseng only went .2 innings and faced six batters, allowing four hits and three earned runs.
The first batter Chien faced, Japan second baseman Makato Kadowaki, hit an RBI single to right field, scoring Mannami for the fourth run of the game.
Japan relief pitcher Kazuto Taguchi entered the game in the bottom of the ninth inning and got Chinese Taipei center fielder Chen Chieh-Hsien to ground into a fielder’s choice to Morshita for the final out of the game as Japan beat Chinese Taipei 4-0.
Japan and Chinese Taipei are playing in their second APBC event. Chinese Taipei finished in third place during the 2017 APBC.
The last Asia Professional Baseball Championship was held in 2017 with Japan beating Korea 7-0 in the championship game and Seibu Lions infielder Shuta Tonosaki being named the MVP in the first year it was held.
Chinese Taipei, at 0-1, will play Australia, also 0-1, in their second game of the APBC at 10 p.m. EST at the Tokyo Dome on Thursday night.
Japan, at 1-0, will play against Korea, also 1-0, on Friday at 5 a.m. EST at the Tokyo Dome.