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Japan beats archrival Korea in World Baseball Classic showdown

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SEOUL, South Korea – It may be time to forget about the World Series as the premier event of baseball – or at least to stop calling World Series winners “world champions.”

How about the World Baseball Classic, the true “world series?” The second WBC roared to an exciting climax on Tuesday afternoon here, Monday night in LA’s Dodger Stadium, with Japan’s tenth-inning 5-3 victory over a determined South Korean team that managed to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth after trailing most of the evening.

Ichiro Suzuki, whose eight seasons of 300-plus batting averages and 100-plus runs scored for the Seattle Mariners have yet to give him the chance to play in a World Series, drove in two runs in the top of the tenth. That was one more than enough for victory over Korea, which failed to produce in the bottom of the inning.

The fact that a name known to American baseball fans got the game-winning run-batted-in for Japan only underlined the internationalization of the sport – and the place of foreign players in the sport once known as "the great American pastime.” The only US major leaguer on the Korean team, Choo Shin Soo, an outfielder for the Cleveland Indians, tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth with a lead-off home run.

There was no disputing the fanaticism of fans in both Korea and Japan, not to mention the 54,846 devotees, many of them from southern California’s large Korean-American and Japanese-American communities, who filled Dodger Stadium.

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