Watch Ohtani hit 102 on the radar -- his fastest pitch
TOKYO -- Shohei Ohtani took the mound on Thursday against Italy for a chance to send Team Japan to the World Baseball Classic semifinals in Miami.
The sellout Tokyo Dome crowd was fired up. Ramen restaurants were on alert. And Ohtani, a man who seems made for these moments, was also definitely a little more pumped up than normal.
Ohtani threw the fastest pitch of his career, tracked by Statcast, in the top of the second inning, when he fanned Vinnie Pasquantino on a 102-mph fastball. It topped his 101.4-mph fastball last September against the Astros.
"This is Shohei when he plays a must-win game like tonight, this is how we see who Shohei is," Japan manager Hideki Kuriyama said. "Not only Shohei, but Yu Darvish as well. ... When we see Shohei playing, all the nation is feeling something extra [about how hard he works.]"
The two-way star's final pitching line: five strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings. At the plate, he scored twice on Kazuma Okamoto's run-scoring hits as Japan moved on to the semifinals with a 9-3 victory. They'll face the winner of Friday's Puerto Rico-Mexico quarterfinal on Monday in Miami.