Trout Could Face Ohtani in WBC Final

World Baseball Classic Semifinals: Cuba v United States

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles Angels teammates Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani will be on opposing sides Tuesday when the U.S. faces Japan in the title game of the World Baseball Classic in Miami.

Ohtani won't be Japan's starting pitcher, but could pitch in relief.

"I'll definitely be prepared to pitch whenever," Ohtani told Fox Sports through a translator following Japan's 6-5 semifinal victory over Mexico in Miami on Monday that put it in the title game. "Before that, I'm going to have to hit so make sure I put some runs on the board before I get to pitch."

Ohtani began Japan's two-run ninth-inning rally by hitting the first pitch from St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Giovanny Gallegos for a double. Masataka Yoshida, who signed with the Boston Red Sox in December, walked on five pitches and was replaced by pinch-runner Ukyo Shuto.

Munetaka Murakami doubled on a 1-1 four-seam fastball, driving in Ohtani and Shuto with the tying and winning runs, advancing Japan to the title game for the third time in the tournament's five editions. Japan won the championship in each of the first two tournaments, 2006 and 2009.

The United States won in its lone title game appearance in 2017, the most recent time the tournament was played before this year. The 2021 tournament was canceled in May 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Merrill Kelly will start for the U.S., pitching for the second time in the tournament. In his other appearance, he allowed two runs and four hits, walked two and struck out one in a 3-2 victory over Columbia Wednesday in a game the U.S. trailed 2-1 when the 34-year- old was relieved after three innings.

Left-hander Shota Imanaga will be Japan's starting pitcher. He has a 2.25 ERA in four innings in two relief appearances with five strike outs and no walks.

Trout is hitting .318 with 1 home run and 7 RBIs. Ohtani is hitting .450 with 1 home run and 8 RBIs.

Japan is 6-0, while the U.S. is 5-1, winning its last four games following an 11-5 pool play loss to Mexico March 12.

The U.S. roster includes Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and catcher Will Smith. Japan's roster includes two other players who play in Major League Baseball in addition to Ohanti and Yoshida -- St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar, a former USC and El Segundo High standout, and San Diego Padres pitcher Yu Darvish.

Nootbaar is eligible to play for Japan because his mother is Japanese.

The winning team will receive $1 million and the runner-up $500,000.

The 4 p.m. game will be televised by FS1.

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