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Japan outlasts Chinese Taipei in WBC thriller

Tokyo, Japan (Sports Network) - Japan was one strike away from defeat, but a gutsy stolen base and Hirokazu Ibata's two-out, RBI single forced extra innings before Sho Nakata drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th with a sacrifice fly to give the two-time World Baseball Classic champs a 4-3 win over Chinese Taipei.

The Japanese trailed 2-0 after seven innings, but pulled out the victory and will next play the Netherlands in Pool 1 on Sunday. The Dutch stunned Cuba in the Pool 1 opener on Friday, 6-2.

Chinese Taipei will face Cuba on Saturday in an elimination game after nearly stunning the home crowd at the Tokyo Dome.

Japan, though, came through in the ninth as Takashi Toritani drew a walk with one out, then stole second on a close play before scoring easily on Ibata's line drive single to center.

After Chinese Taipei couldn't take advantage of a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth, Japan put its first two batters aboard in the 10th on a single and a walk. A perfect bunt advanced the runners and Nakata drilled a pitch to the warning track in left field to chase home the go-ahead run.

Chinese Taipei threatened in the bottom of the 10th with a pair of one-out singles, but Yung-Chi Chen grounded into a double play to end the game.

Chien-Ming Wang was brilliant in the start for Chinese Taipei, throwing six innings of shutout ball. He limited Japan to six hits and walked only one while his teammates built a 2-0 lead.

Yen-Wen Kuo led off the third with a double, then took third on a bunt before a walk and a hit batter loaded the bases. Szu-Chi Chou drew another walk to force home the game's first run. Che-Hsuan Lin doubled with one out in the home fifth and scored on a single by Cheng-Min Peng to make it 2-0.

Ibata, who finished 3-for-4, started the eighth for Japan with a single off Hung-Chih Kuo, advanced to third on a base hit into right by Seiichi Uchikawa and scored on Shinnosuke Abe's sharp single into right field. Yoshio Itoi bunted into a force out at third before Hayato Sakamoto singled off the glove of shortstop Chih-Sheng Lin. Pinch-runner Yuichi Honda scored on the play, but Itoi was thrown out at third for the second out and the go-ahead run was eventually stranded at third when Nakata flied to right.

Chinese Taipei came right back and regained the lead in the bottom of the inning, as Peng singled to center, raced to third on a double off the left field wall by Chih-Sheng Lin and scored on a line single to center by Chou.

03/08 10:14:31 ET


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