10:53AM EST October 24, 2022

Matthew Tallarini, Chief Correspondent

The stage was set for another clash between South Korea and Japan.  This time both clubs would play for significant bragging rights as both teams met in the gold medal game of the U23 World Cup.  Just a few days ago during the second day of the Super Round, the mighty Samurai ball club came out on top against South Korea by a score of 2-1.  Manager for Japan, Akio Ishii, would have starting pitcher Ren Tomida take the mound during the most pivotal showdown between the world’s top countries.  While South Korea manager Yeon Soo Lee would call upon pitcher Saangyung Lee to stop the pesky Japan offense.  Both pitchers entering the gold medal game were leading most pitchers with innings pitched and batters faced during the U23 World Cup.  This would be the first time both countries would go up against each other during the gold medal game of the U23 World Cup.  Japan is aiming for the first gold medal in the U23 since the 2016 World Cup in Monterrey, Mexico.  This would be South Korea’s first appearance in the gold medal game in their nation’s history, with just two bronze medals during the 2014 and 2016 U23 World Cup. 

Tomida would seem to have excellent command against the South Korea offense as he retired their top order of the lineup 1-2-3 in the first inning.  Lee would also have control of his pitches during the first inning as there was no harm done and just one walk allowed to Yuto Hirano as the only base runner.  It wouldn’t be until the bottom of the third inning that Japan would attempt to go on the board first.  The first batter of the third would be Yuto Nakada as he gets hit by a pitch to get the Samurai ball club going.  The next batter, 3B Hiroki Nagawa, would also get hit by a pitch as Japan threatened for a first and second scenario with no outs to begin the inning.  A few moments later, Masashi Maruyama would go up to the plate looking to put Japan on the board once and for all as he drives a 1-0 pitch to right field out of the park for a three-run home run to strike a 3-0 lead for the Samurai club.  That would be all for Lee as he goes 2 1/3 innings pitched, allowing two hits, three earned runs being the big blast by Maruyama, two walks, and four strikeouts during the gold medal game.  Seungju Han would relieve Lee looking to keep the Japan offense at bay the rest of the way.  Han would get the next two batters, Kanta Aiba and Ren Onishi, to hit two quick in playouts as the score was halted at 3-0 to end the third. 

It would be a bullpen game the rest of the way for both ball clubs positioning the setup roles for the Samurai ball club.  South Korea did not seem to find their offense during most of their at bats against Japan’s pitching.  One batter Jaesun Song would reach on base to lead off the sixth inning with a double and become the lone runner for South Korea in scoring position the rest of the way.  Japan treated this game as a starter opener to a bullpen scenario early.  Tomida only pitched two innings, with no hits allowed, no earned runs, no walks, and one strikeout to set the tone for Japan’s bullpen throughout the game just giving up one walk along with two hits allowed combined.  U23 World Cup closer leader Ryusei Gonda would enter the game looking to give Japan the gold.  The first batter of the inning would be Sejin Cho, who draws a lead-off walk to start the seventh.  The next batter would be Seunghwan Song, as he pops up to third for the first out of the inning.  A few moments later, Gonda would get Taeyang to pop up to third for the second out of the inning.  Pinch hitter Janghan Oh would dig into the batter’s box replacing catcher Seongbin Son for the final hope of South Korea.  On an 0-2 pitch, Oh would drive the ball to left field as Yuto Hirano camps under it to secure the final out of the gold medal game as Japan goes on to win the U23 World Cup by a score of 3-0 over number two ranked South Korea.  South Korea’s pitching was extraordinary today just having two walks, ten strikeouts, and five combined hits.  The offense from South Korea could not prevail as they only had two hits and reached scoring position once during the gold medal game.  Japan’s mystique continues in the international circuit as they become the first multi gold medal winner during the U23 WBSC World Cup event.  U23 All-World Team would have four of Team Samurai’s player’s listed starting pitcher Ren Tomida, relief pitcher Ryusey Gonda, third basemen, Hiroki Nakagawa, and designated hitter Ren Onishi would be selected.