World Baseball Classic
WBC Daily: Australia, Italy lead underdog upsets; Ohtani shines
World Baseball Classic

WBC Daily: Australia, Italy lead underdog upsets; Ohtani shines

Updated Mar. 9, 2023 5:27 p.m. ET

The 2023 World Baseball Classic is bringing out all the names. Shohei Ohtani. Ronald Acuña Jr. Juan Soto. Two Australian guys named Robbie? Here's a rundown of everything you need to know from Day 2 of the tournament.

Australia 8, Korea 7

For all the star power assembled in the tournament, some of the most memorable moments come from the triumphs of lesser-known commodities thriving on the biggest stage. For Robbie Glendinning and Robbie Perkins, that time arrived Thursday as they powered Australia past Korea in one of the more shocking upsets and wild finishes early in WBC play. 

In the midst of a thrilling back-and-forth matchup, Korea reliever Won-Jung Kim entered with two on, one out and a two-run lead in the seventh inning. After getting a strikeout, in stepped Glendinning, a 2017 21st-round pick of the Pirates who mashed 19 homers last year for Kansas City's Double-A affiliate, Northwest Arkansas. 


When a 1-1 offering caught too much of the plate, all Kim could do was turn to his left in disbelief, his flowing brunette locks whipping close behind as Glendinning demolished a go-ahead, 410-foot, three-run blast. Kim had allowed just four home runs in 43 innings for KBO's Lotte Giants last season. 

An inning later, Perkins provided the devastating blow. The 28-year-old Canberra native, who reached as high as Triple-A in Colorado's farm system in 2017 and last played minor-league ball in 2018, added another three-run homer. 

The excitement, however, was just brewing. 

Nursing a four-run lead, Australia's pitchers struggled to find the zone in the eighth, walking five batters and hitting another to put Korea within a run. Korea came inches from jumping ahead during the 41-pitch inning, but Sung Bum Na's bases-loaded drive to deep left field went just foul before reliever Sam Holland extinguished the threat on a strikeout, complete with a stare back toward home plate. 

Australia vs. Korea Highlights

Australia and Korea faced off in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Watch the full highlights!

At every major turning point, Glendinning and Perkins weren't far away. 

In the seventh inning, Korea pinch-hitter Baekho Kang represented the tying run when he doubled. But he stood up and celebrated with his teammates in the dugout, briefly lifting his foot off the bag. Glendinning supplied the tag to remove the threat. 

And at the very end, with Australia again nursing a one-run lead, Perkins finished off the upset in style by catching Tommy Edman stealing second base. 

It's not an exaggeration to call it one of the biggest wins in Australian baseball history — and all the more essential considering Pool B includes powerhouse Japan. Australia had previously won just two games in WBC history and has never advanced out of the first round. 

Korea, meanwhile, will be left to lament its missed opportunities and mental lapses. Korea has two top-three finishes in the WBC, including a trip to a championship game, though it failed to escape the group stage in the last two tournaments and is now off to another inauspicious start. 

Netherlands 3, Panama 1

Despite starting an hour after Australia and Korea, the Netherlands had already picked up its second win of the tournament before Australia wrapped up its upset. 

The pitching was much crisper in this one, except when Xander Bogaerts stepped up to bat. If there's one player in Pool A you don't want to beat you, it's the new Padres shortstop, and he made life nightmarish on Panama's pitching staff with three of the Netherlands' eight hits. 

The first came on a home run off Panama starter and Angels standout Jaime Barría, who allowed only the one run despite surrendering four hits and two walks in 2.2 innings in his international debut. 

On the other side was pitcher Shairon Martis, who at age 18 made history by no-hitting Panama during the 2006 WBC. Now 35, Martis again kept Panama off the board with three scoreless innings in the win, which included this from reliever Kevin Kelly (and probably a look of disappointment, somewhere, from Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson). 

A home run from Jurickson Profar gave the Netherlands a necessary insurance run, and a late run scored by Bogaerts on a wild pitch gave the Netherlands more breathing room. Profar and Bogaerts combined to go 5-for-7. 

Japan 8, China 1

Congrats, Jin Yang! You got a hit off Shohei Ohtani. 

That was about the extent of the good times for China, though the matchup against hometown favorite Japan wasn't the immediate rout many would have anticipated. Consider, too, that the China National Baseball League has been on hiatus since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with most players training on their own. 

Now, go try to hit 100 mph from Ohtani!

Yes, the former AL MVP was already touching triple digits in velocity Thursday at the Tokyo Dome. Ohtani predictably dominated, allowing just the one hit while striking out five in four scoreless innings. At the dish, he grounded out with the bases loaded in the second inning before blasting a two-run double 110.2 mph off the bat to the opposite field in his next at-bat.

But China's pitchers battled, holding Japan's NPB All-Star-laden lineup to three runs through six innings. Adding to the drama, China's Pei Liang homered off Shosei Togo in the sixth inning, silencing the tens of thousands in the stadium and cutting the deficit to two runs. Team Japan walked 16 times in the game but left 16 on base. 

Pei Liang gets China on the board

Pei Liang cranked a solo home run to get China on the board against Japan in the World Baseball Classic, 3-1.

Eventually, though, the breakout arrived. Japan's Shugo Maki homered to ease the tension, and an Ohtani single sparked a four-run eighth inning rally to put the game away. Ohtani and Lars Nootbaar led Japan with two hits apiece, and both reached base four times.

Something cool to note: 39-year-old Ray Chang is playing in his fourth WBC for China after running MLB development in the country since the last WBC. He was one of four batters in China's lineup to reach base in defeat. 

Japan and China have faced each other in every WBC, with Japan winning every matchup while outscoring China by 39 runs. 

Italy 6, Cuba 3

This is not your father's Italian team. 

Pitcher Sam Gaviglio is the only returning member from the last World Baseball Classic on an Italian roster that features a number of major-leaguers and soon-to-be major-leaguers scattered throughout. 

Prior to the start of the tournament, Italy manager Mike Piazza gathered the many American players on his roster for an educational trip to Italy in an effort to bond, connect with their Italian heritage and partake in family meals (like "White Lotus," with less drama!). The players certainly looked to be enjoying one another's company as they handed Cuba its surprising second straight loss to begin the tournament. 

The Italy-Cuba starting pitching matchup was a great opportunity to remember some guys. Veteran Matt Harvey, who spent last season in the minors in Baltimore, fired three scoreless innings in his WBC debut. 

On the other side was 34-year-old Roenis Elías. Despite pitching mostly out of the bullpen last year for Seattle and Triple-A Tacoma, Elías was absolutely lights out for Aguilas as a starter in the Dominican Winter League. He continued that trend Thursday, holding Italy scoreless for five innings. 

But coming off a loss to the Netherlands, Cuba again couldn't get the bats going — especially surprising considering MLB players are now eligible to play for Cuba in the WBC for the first time. Yoán Moncada and Luis Robert combined to go 1-for-7 in the opening loss and 1-for-10 against Italy, though a nifty play at third base from Moncada kept Cuba in the game. 

The Cuban team also features Yoenis Céspedes, who's playing in the WBC for the first time since 2009. The 37-year-old former major league All-Star struggled to haul in a drive to left field from Miles Mastrobuoni that tipped off his glove, scoring Italy's second run. Cuba would battle back, though, tying the game on an Erisbel Arruebarrena single before Italy erupted with a flurry in extra innings. 

Dominic Fletcher — David's younger brother and a top prospect in the Diamondbacks' system — laced a 10th-inning double to right field, spurring a gaggle of mustachioed men to emerge from the Italy bench to celebrate. 

Nicky Lopez tacked on two more with a two-out single to put the win away in Piazza's first game as manager. 

Rowan Kavner covers the Dodgers and NL West for FOX Sports. He previously was the Dodgers’ editor of digital and print publications. Follow him on Twitter at @RowanKavner. 

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