‘Unsuccess in college entrance exam → Go to professional → Win WBC’ Japanese national university’s youngest reversal drama

Ohtani Shohei (LA Angels) was not the only one who wrote a cartoon-like story at the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC).

Japanese media Full Count said on the 22nd (Korean time), “The popularity of Hiroto Takahashi (21, Chunichi), a 20-year-old pitcher who struggled for the Japanese national team, is soaring in the United States.”

Previously, the Japanese national team won 3-2 in the 2023 WBC final against the US baseball team held at Rondipo Park in Miami, Florida, USA, and won the tournament for the third time.

Otani, who signaled the beginning and end of the WBC tournament, and No. 4 Munetaka Murakami (Yakult), who slumped until the quarterfinals but survived with a dramatic final blow against Mexico in the quarterfinals, were spotlighted.먹튀검증

Takahashi was one of them. His main weapon is a fastball with a maximum speed of 157km and a splitter in the second half of 140km. He was first selected for the national team at the age of 20.

Although he was the youngest, his ball was as fierce as his seniors. His first appearance was on the 10th against Korea in the first round, and he came up in the 9th inning and finished the game with 1 inning, 1 walk, 1 strikeout and no run. On the 12th, the game against Australia also came up in the ninth inning and gave a home run to the lead batter, but after that, he struck out two and finished the game again without any additional runs.

The highlight was the final against the United States. He came up as the third pitcher in the top of the 5th inning, with Japan leading 3-1, and faced the MVP batting line: Mookie Betts (LA Dodgers), Mike Trout (LA Angels), and Paul Goldschmidt (St. Louis). He gave up an infield hit to Betts, but struck out Trout and Goldschmidt back-to-back. In particular, the fastball at 96.8 miles per hour (approximately 155.7 km), stuck in the lower strike zone, which stopped Goldschmidt, made the fans who watched it stick out their tongues.

The youngest player kept the lead until the end, and Japan eventually defeated the United States 3-2 and stood at the top of the world. With this, Takahashi became the second youngest player to win the WBC title after Masahiro Tanaka (35) at the time of the 2009 WBC championship. Unfortunately, he was unable to attend the champagne party alone, as he had not reached the legal drinking age of 21 in the United States. After the match, Takahashi laughed, saying, “I even brought goggles for the champagne party, but it’s a pity. The seniors sprinkled water instead.”

All of these achievements attracted attention because it was a reversal drama that would not have happened if Takahashi had succeeded in entering the university. Having studied well in high school affiliated with Chukyo University, he tried to enter Japan’s prestigious Keio University, but failed. Afterwards, he participated in the 2020 Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) Draft and took the first pick in Chunichi to go pro.

Takahashi, who had been quenched in the 2nd team in his first year as a professional, made his debut in the 1st team last year in his 2nd year and had a successful year with an average ERA of 2.47, 6 wins and 7 losses in 19 games, and 134 strikeouts in 116⅔ innings. There were some who were concerned about Takahashi, who had just finished one season, but there were also opinions that he was a player to pay attention to as much as Ohtani and Sasaki Loki (Chiba Lotte).

However, he became a winner by successfully holding a major league showcase against the best players. Rob Friedman, a major league pitching analysis expert who introduced Takahashi’s pitching, posted compliments on SNS such as “It was art”, “A 20-year-old player overpowered a world-class team in the finals”, and “How long will it take to see it in the major leagues?” It didn’t stop.

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