by WBSC Baseball Division, www.ibaf.org
TOKYO – Debuting in a two-game series at the Tokyo Dome against the top-ranked nation in the world, Europe recorded its historic first victory for the continent, defeating Japan 6-2.
Like in Game 1, Europe managed to get out of the gates early off Samurai Japan, tagging starter Takahiro Matsuba for back-to-back doubles in the second inning, authored by Italy’s Mario Chiarini and Spain’s Blake Ochoa, which put Europe up 2-0.
A towering three-run home run by the Netherlands’ Yurendell De Caster in the bottom of the third gave Europe a 5-0 lead. (VIDEO: Decaster HR)
With the cushion, Europe starter Diegomar Marwell (Netherlands) kept Japan’s bats quiet through three innings, only allowing three hits.
In the 5th, Tetsuto Yamada launched a solo home run and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo’s RBI single cut Europe’s lead to 5-3.
Europe manager Steve Janssen handed the ball to Germany’s Luke Sommer, who pitched a clean 6th to 8th innings.
Dutch flamethrower Tom Stuifbergen pitched the final inning, using a 95 mph / 153 kmh fastball close out the game and register the save for Europe.
Sommer was credited with the win. Japan starter Matsuba took the loss.
The historic win for Europe follows the announcement by baseball’s world governing body, WBSC, to establish Team Europe. Europe was immediately pitted against the world No. 1 Japanese National Team, “Samurai Japan”, made up of top stars from Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). The majority of players on Japan’s current roster were part of the Samurai selection that faced Team MLB in a best-of-five series, won by hosts Japan, last November.
Both WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari and NPB Commissioner Katsuhiko Kumazaki went down on the field Wednesday night to congratulate the European team, following their 6-2 win and two exciting contests in as many nights.
“These two games and this win send another message to the world that Europe can compete with anyone and that our sport is more global than ever,” President Fraccari said.
Samurai Japan manager Hiroki Kokubo said, “We have to give them credit. They’ve come a long way and played the game at a high level.”
“The victory was a historic one, as it was the debut of the multinational Team Europe,” The Japan Times reported.
Head coach Janssen (Netherlands National Team manager) and bench coach Marco Mazzieri (Italy National Team manager) compiled a roster of 28 European players from six countries: (by world rank) No. 5 Netherlands, No. 11 Italy, No. 17 Spain, No. 18 Germany, No. 20 Czech Republic and No. 27 France. No. 39 Austria was also represented as part of Team Europe coaching staff.
Yokohama BayStars rising star Tsutsugoh, 23, was one of the bright spots for the Samurai in the series, collecting a pair of hits and RBIs. “I would like come up with positive results during the [NPB} season [that is] worthy of a Samurai Japan member,” he said.
Over 44,000 people attended the historic matches, with an increase in attendance of approximately 2,000 more fans for Game 2, following Samurai Japan’s thrilling 4-3 come-from-behind victory Tuesday night.
The two-game series was broadcast free-to-air nationally across Japan by the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS), while Eurosport 2 transmitted the games live to potentially 73 million households across more than 50 European nations.
Prior to the start of Game 2 there was a moment of silence to honor the victims and raise awareness of ongoing recovery efforts four years after the 11 March 2011 Tsunami devastated the Fukushima region.
NPB — the second highest-attended major sports league in the world in 2014 (approx. 23 million) and WBSC Associate Member — hosted the Europe versus Japan two-game series.
Umpires from the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL; WBSC Associate Member) officiated the two games.
Leading sports performance brand Asics backed Europe as the official kit sponsor.
In the two-game series, Japan outhit Europe 16 to 13. Japan played spotless defense with the glove, committing no errors on defense; while Europe also flashed the leather, executing a pickoff and making only one error on defense.