Videos by OutKick
Randy Arozarena was on fuego during Mexico’s World Baseball Classic semifinal, but Team Japan answered with a thrilling walk-off win over Mexico to steal all the thunder from Arozarena’s stellar performance.
Japan advances to the championship round to take on Team USA in what should be a thrilling duel between baseball powerhouses on Tuesday.
It was a deflating loss for Mexico as they failed to seal the deal with a 5-4 lead heading into the ninth.
Preceding Japan’s comeback was a lights-out performance from Arozarena, who appeared to be catching anything that flew left all evening.
In the bottom of the fifth with one out tallied and a runner on first, Japan’s Kazuma Okamoto drilled one deep left. Backing up for the ball was Arozarena — the Cuban-born outfielder studied the ball in the air and timed his jump right on time to rob Okamoto of the home run.
After the insane catch, Arozarena struck a pose as rabid Mexico fans went wild for the save.
Mexico pitcher Patrick Sandoval’s face said it all as he stared back at Arozarena, out of breath and in complete relief at the save.
Arozarena has an incredible story to match. The Cuban player defected from the communist-ruled island to Mexico and then moved to the United States to play in the MLB.
Arozarena sent Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador a message asking to play for Mexico’s national team, and Obrado approved.
With the save, Mexico maintained their 3-0 lead over Japan heading into the sixth. Japan scored thrice in the seventh inning and once in the eighth to challenge Mexico heading into the seventh. Masataka Yoshida homered right to tie the game in the seventh, bringing in Kensuke Kondoh and international superstar Shohei Ohtani.
For Japan, ace Roki Sasaki threw absolute heat against Mexico. Outside of the errant fourth inning where Mexico jumped to a 3-0 lead, Sasaki shined: throwing 100+ mph on 19 of his first 20 pitches.
Ohtani led the ninth for Japan and landed on second after a drive down the middle. Ukyo Shuto got to first in the subsequent at-bat and Munetaka Murakami scored the game-winning double for the walk-off win, 6-5.
An unbelievable moment with an equally incredible call.
Japan moves on to the World Baseball Classic championship. Ohtani is questionable to pitch for Japan, while Team USA plans to start D’Backs pitcher Merrill Kelly.
Follow Alejandro Avila on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela
Check us out on TikTok