Czech electrician strikes out Ohtani, earns bragging rights for life

March 14th, 2023

In the days leading up to the 2023 World Baseball Classic, players on the Czech national team, making their first appearance in the tournament, were asked which of their opponents they were most excited to face in the first round.

The answer was unanimous -- everyone wanted a crack at Shohei Ohtani.

On Saturday morning, when the Czech Republic finally faced Japan -- and by extension, Ohtani -- it was tasked with taking down an undefeated team that has proven to be an offensive powerhouse thus far (Japan’s 31 runs scored through three games are by far the most in Pool B).

The Czech lineup had to face an equally fearsome starting pitcher, 21-year-old Roki Sasaki, who pumps 100 mph sinkers with regularity. Czech starter Ondrej Satoria, who is an electrician by day, provided an incredible contrast. In his three innings of work against Japan, he topped out at 79.3 mph -- and faced an uphill battle.

While Satoria ultimately surrendered three runs in his team’s 10-2 loss, he came away with a souvenir many Major League pitchers can’t boast. In the third inning, facing Ohtani for the second time, Satoria struck him out on three pitches -- the third a 72.1 mph changeup that drew an ugly swing from one of MLB’s best hitters.

"What I'll remember is Satoria's first inning," manager Pavel Chadim said. "It was strikeout, strikeout and ground ball to first. Then Shohei struck out in his second time up. ... Three strikeouts from three of the best hitters from Japan in the lineup."

That admiration for Satoria and his underdog teammates was shared by Team Japan -- including Ohtani, who later posted a photo of the Czech team on his Instagram story with the caption: "Respect."

The two would meet up on Tuesday, with Ohtani asking for and receiving a signed Czech Republic jersey from Satoria and his teammates.