The United States eked out a 2-1 victory over Japan in the World Baseball Classic semifinals on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. moves on to face Puerto Rico in the finals on Wednesday.
Japan wouldn’t respond until the bottom of the sixth when Ryosuke Kikuchi sneaked a solo home run over the right field fence, victimizing Nate Jones.
The U.S. took the lead for good in the eighth. With one out, Brandon Crawford singled and Ian Kinsler doubled, putting runners on second and third base. Adam Jones brought in the go-ahead run with a 5-3 ground out, giving the U.S. a 2-1 advantage.
Mark Melancon and Pat Neshek teamed up to get three outs in the eighth. In the ninth, Luke Gregerson got Sho Nakata and Hayato Sakamoto to ground out, then struck out Nobuhiro Matsuda to end the ballgame, sending the U.S. to the finals.
Japan won the first two World Baseball Classic tournaments, but will settle for a third-place finish in 2017. Puerto Rico was a runner-up in the 2013 tournament, losing to the Dominican Republic. The U.S. finished in fourth place in 2009.
The WBC final between the U.S. and Puerto Rico will be held at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night, starting at 9:00 PM ET.