Masato Morishita and four relievers combined on a six hitter, and the Japanese men (5-0) matched the accomplishment of the women’s softball team, which upset the Americans for their second straight gold.
Several hundred people who appeared to be Olympic volunteers cheered Japan on at a largely empty 34,000-seat stadium in Yokohama, some wearing orange Japan jerseys and matching masks on the hot, humid night.
America, the nation that introduced baseball to Japan in 1872, finished 4-2. Teams have been denied access to all players on the 40-player roster and many eligible top prospects by Major League Baseball and its clubs, hampering the United States and other countries whose top players are in MLB.
Murakami, at 21 the youngest player in Japan’s starting lineup but already twice All-Star in four seasons with the Central League’s Yakult Swallows, reached out for a pitch at 85.2 mph with an account Nick Martinez’s 2-2 (1-1). He drove the ball to the opposite court, over the 16-foot wall in the left center, and Martinez winced as he landed in the fourth row of the empty blue seats.
Japan added an unearned run in the eighth when Masataka Yoshida knocked out reliever Scott McGough and center fielder Jack Lopez pushed the ball past the plate for a mistake that allowed Tetsuto Yamada to score. The Japanese beat the United States for the second time in six days, rallying in ninth to win 7-6 in 10 innings on Monday.
Morishita (2-0), a 23-year-old right-hander on Hiroshima Toyo Carp who is the reigning Central League Rookie of the Year, limited the United States to three hits in five innings, struck out five strikes on takes and walked none.
Kodai Senga, a 28-year-old Pacific League Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks right-hander considered a possible future MLB pitcher, followed with a heat of 98 mph in the sixth.
Hiromi Itoh threw in the seventh and gave up a starting single to Tyler Austin in the eighth.
Suguru Iwazaki, a 30-year-old southpaw with the Central League Hanshin Tigers, relieved and removed Boston prospect Triston Casas, pulled Todd Frazier on a pop-up and got Eric Filia to step up. strength.
Ryoji Kuribayashi, 25 for the first time on the All-Star for Hiroshima, finished with a perfect ninth in his third save, gave up a single with one out to Nick Allen, then pulled Lopez out on a forced takeout.
Japanese players flocked to the mound, the relievers coming from the reliever pen. At one point, manager Atsunori Inaba was hoisted into the air by the players and thrown up and down over the mound like on a trampoline. The players also lined up on the third baseline and bowed to their supporters.
Martinez, a 31-year-old former Texas right-hander in his fourth pitching season in Japan, allowed five hits in six innings with seven strikeouts and one walk.
Former Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia was defeated in his attempt to match the feat of his mentor, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, who led the United States to a baseball gold medal in 2000.
Frazier failed to add the Little League World Series title gold he won with Toms River East American in New Jersey in 1998.
And while second baseman Eddy Alvarez only became the third American athlete and the sixth overall to win medals at the Winter and Summer Games, he failed to win gold and equaled the silver he won as a speed skater in 2014.
Baseball has only been played at the Olympics for the sixth time, the first since 2008, restored at the request of Japan as the host nation. It has already been dropped for the 2024 Paris Games but could return for 2028 in Los Angeles and 2032 in Brisbane, Australia.
Japan ended their major league season on July 17 and allowed the best players to come together for the Olympics. MLB executives scoffed at the idea of sending the best players to the Olympics, saying it was neither practical nor economical to shut down the season and that many GMs outright rejected the idea of risking injury for players for any game other than the club that pays their checks.
While the Japanese team lacked MLB stars Shohei Ohtani and Yu Darvish, they still had enough power to twice beat the resulting US roster, which was a questionable mix of Double-A prospects not considered ready for them. big leagues, released major league veterans and career minor leagues.
The United States started a formation which had a career WAR of 2.9 with the exception of Frazier at 25.2. The only others with major league experience were Martinez (2.1), Austin (1.0) and Alvarez (-0.2).
Alvarez hit a pitch late in the inning with two runs in the fifth, Jamie Westbrook took off with two in the sixth and failed, blocking a runner in the second, seventh.