The Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani continued with a stellar performance at this year’s World Baseball Classic. Pitching for Japan on Thursday, Ohtani struck out five batters and allowed just two runs allowed to help his country to a dominant 9-3 win.
The audience at the Tokyo Dome also witnessed Ohtani throwing his fastest pitch since he came to MLB in 2018. The 28-year-old threw a 102-mph heater in the second inning to strike out Vinnie Pasquantino. His previous high was clocked at 101.4 mph in September against the Houston Astros.
By beating Italy, Japan has secured a spot in the WBC semifinals for their fifth straight time. They are now the only country in the history of the competition to do so.
Ohtani is serving in a dual role for Japan at WBC in the same way he has been doing for the Angels. He is batting .438 and has one home run with eight RBIs. On the mound, he has a 2.08 ERA with 10 strikeouts.
Japan is set to play either Mexico or Puerto Rico in the semis, with Ohtani just serving as a hitter. The 2021 AL MVP will have a chance to pitch again if his team manages to get to the finals. Japan made the WBC finals twice, in 2006 and 2009, and won both times.