WBC: Japan beats Italy 9-3 to advance to semifinals

Japan has advanced to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic tournament with a 9-3 win over Italy.

Samurai Japan had finished the first round in top place in Pool-B undefeated with four wins. Italy was second in Pool-A with two wins and two losses.

Japan's two-way star Ohtani Shohei took the mound as the starter in Thursday's quarterfinal at the Tokyo Dome.

Ohtani racked up five strikeouts in five innings with a combination of breaking pitches and fastballs clocking up to 164 kilometers per hour.

His teammate Okamoto Kazuma hit a three-run homer in the third inning, to take the initiative in the game, 4-0.
Italy got on the board with two runs in the fifth, but Murakami Munetaka hit an RBI double over the center field in the same inning.

Okamoto then made back-to-back clutch hits, widening the lead to 7-2.

In the seventh inning Japan further expanded its lead with a solo homer by Yoshida Masataka.

The Japanese squad now faces the winner of the match between Mexico and Puerto Rico in the semifinal to be played in Miami on Monday.

Japan is aiming for its third World Baseball Classic title after winning in 2006 and 2009.