• Kyodo

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Yoshinobu Takahashi hit his second homer in as many games and six pitchers combined to pitch a shutout Tuesday as Japan thrashed an Italian Serie A select team 15-0 in its final warm-up game for the Athens Olympic baseball tournament.

Japan went ahead with a two-run double by Seibu Lions outfielder Kazuhiro Wada in the second inning and padded its lead to 8-0 after a six-run third that featured four consecutive RBI hits, including those from Kenji Jojima and Norihiro Nakamura.

Takahashi and Michihiro Ogasawara homered later in the game to give Japan double-digit runs in both of its exhibition games, following a 10-0 rout of the same Italian squad two days ago.

Daiei Hawks southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada started Tuesday’s game and pitched two scoreless innings with four strikeouts.

“I can give the team a full mark. These guys played their respective roles in the games and hopefully they will take the same mental approach into the tournament in Athens,” Japan head coach Kiyoshi Nakahata said.

Nakahata and his 24-man squad wrapped up their training camp in Italy on Tuesday and will fly into Athens on Wednesday.

Japan opens its Olympic campaign next Sunday in a preliminary-round game against Italy, aiming for its first gold medal since baseball became an official medal event at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Japan finished fourth in Sydney four years ago after winning bronze in Barcelona and silver in Atlanta in 1996.

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