Japan defeated South Korea in a pulsating, entertaining and exhausting final today- an excellent game that spanned my classes from 2nd all the way through to 6th periods. Thankfully I got to watch the lions share of the game, and despite my diplomacy in front of staff and students, was secretly rooting for Japan. It was a wonderful final- full of tension, intrigue, and a back and forth battle that has characterised the 5 games that Japan and Korea have played against each other. Japan were the better team, scoring far more hits and ultimately deserving the victory- they just had that bit more.
The early stages were dominated by the Bong-Iwakuma battle, yet this game didn’t follow the 1-0 victory by Korea in Tokyo by being a game only for the pitchers. Iwakuma got the better of the battle- he lasted all the way through to the 8th, helping Japan to a 3-2 victory going into the 9th. Darvish stepped up to close the game- presumably Fujikawa isn’t yet in tip-top form- and almost blew it, allowing 2 walks and then a single to tie the game at 3-3. He closed out the innings at 3-3, and at the top of the 10th Ichiro stepped up. Facing a long tortuous run of strikes then balls, the Korean pitcher finally pitched directly at Ichiro (when apparently he had been instructed to walk him), and Ichiro responded with a beautiful single to centre-field, getting two home and giving Japan a 5-3 lead. Darvish returned at the bottom of the 10th, and made no mistake this time to capture the title for Japan.