Shohei Ohtani throws his fastest pitch ever, but David Fletcher has big moment
The first game of the World Baseball Classic semifinals saw two Los Angeles Angels teammates facing off. Shohei Ohtani led Team Japan to the second round winning the MVP award of Pool B. Japan was set to face David Fletcher and Team Italy at 3am PST.
Ohtani was set to make his final WBC start of the tournament. The plan for Shohei has always been to pitch this game and then make his next start for the Angels in a Spring Training game against the Padres on March 24th. This would have him ready for Opening Day on normal rest on to pitch in Oakland on March 30th.
With this being Ohtani's last time pitching in the WBC, he definitely did not want to go out on a sour note.
Ohtani throws his fastest pitch ever but Angels teammate David Fletcher has big moment too
Ohtani wasn't quite as dominant as he was in his first WBC start, but he was good enough for Team Japan to defeat Italy convincingly. Ohtani went 4.2 innings and allowed two runs on four hits. He walked one and struck out five in Japan's 9-3 victory. He threw 71 pitches, which is definitely a good thing.
To say Ohtani was pumped up for this game would be an understatement. He's pitching at home in front of his fans. He wanted to put on a show and has all tourney long. That was no different in this game.
Vinnie Pasquantino, the promising first baseman of the Kansas City Royals, led off in the top of the second inning for Italy. Ohtani was ahead in the count 1-2 and he got Pasquantino to swing through a fastball clocked at 102.0 mph. That's the fastest pitch of Ohtani's MLB career, topping the 101.4 mph pitch he threw last September.
Oh, and Ohtani also singled and walked in his five plate appearances and scored two runs. So it was just another day in the office for this superstar.
Now onto David Fletcher. Fletch played third base for Team Italy and hit ninth in this game. Ohtani got him to ground out in his first at-bat, but Fletcher got the best of Ohtani his second time up, poking a single through the right side. This was as fitting of a hit for Fletcher as it gets.
Fletcher would then score on the two-run single that knocked Ohtani out of the game.
Shohei and his 102 mph pitch generated all of the headlines, and rightfully so, but Fletcher got the best of his teammate in their head-to-head matchup.
It's unfortunate that we couldn't see an Ohtani vs. Trout matchup at least with Ohtani pitching, but Ohtani vs. Fletcher is good enough.