Red Sox outfielders Masataka Yoshida, Alex Verdugo starred in thrilling Japan-Mexico WBC semifinal


The World Baseball Classic has consistently dispelled any notions that it would be meaningless or wouldn't produce exciting baseball, giving fans one thrilling game after another.

The best one yet came Monday night, with Japan coming back for a walk-off 6-5 win over Mexico in the semifinals. And the Red Sox had their fingerprints all over this instant classic.

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With Japan trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the seventh, it was new Red Sox outfielder Masataka Yoshida who stepped up with two men on and tied the game with a three-run homer down the right-field line.

That continued what has been an excellent WBC for Yoshida, who is hitting .474 with two home runs, a 1.413 OPS and a tournament-best 13 RBIs in six games.

Fellow Boston outfielder Alex Verdugo got the lead right back for Mexico in the top of the eighth, driving in Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena with an RBI double into the left-center-field gap.

Jarren Duran -- yet another Red Sox outfielder -- came in to pinch run for Verdugo and scored on an Isaac Paredes RBI single a couple batters later to make it 5-3 Mexico.

Verdugo and Duran were both born and raised in the United States, but their fathers were born in Mexico, making them eligible to compete for either country.

Mexico still led 5-4 heading to the bottom of the ninth, but Japan had more heroics in store. Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani started the rally with a leadoff double, and Yoshida followed with a seemingly unintentional-intentional walk, with Giovanny Gallegos giving him little to swing at in a five-pitch walk.

Munetaka Murakami then crushed a walk-off double off the center-field wall, with Ohtani scoring the tying run and Ukyo Shuto -- who had come in to pinch run for Yoshida -- crossing the plate as the winning run.

Yoshida, Ohtani and Japan will now face Mike Trout, Mookie Betts and the United States in the WBC championship game at Miami's loanDepot Park Tuesday night at 7 p.m. on FS1.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images