• Kyodo


Yoshinobu Takahashi homered for the third straight game Sunday to highlight a 13-hit offense as Japan beat hosts Greece 6-1 to advance to the baseball semifinals with the best record in the preliminaries at the Athens Games.

News photoShinya Miyamoto tumbles over Greece baserunner Vasili Spanos after Spanos was forced
out at second base in the fifth inning of their game on Sunday in Athens. Japan won 6-1.

Japan finished the round-robin preliminaries with a 6-1 record and will meet the loser of the game between Australia and Canada to be played later Sunday. Cuba has also secured a place in Tuesday’s semifinals.

“Playing in the games to come is the reason we came here. We’re just beginning the battle. I don’t care who we face in the semis,” said Japan head coach Kiyoshi Nakahata.

On the final day of round-robin play at Olympic Baseball Center, Nippon Ham Fighters infielder Michihiro Ogasawara, who was 3-for-17 before Sunday’s game, doubled down the right-field line off Meleti Ross Melehes with two outs in the second to put Japan on the board.

Japan captain and Yakult Swallows infielder Shinya Miyamoto led off the sixth with an infield single and came around to score the team’s second run on a Yoshitomo Tani RBI single off reliever Alexander Cremidans.

In the seventh, Chunichi Dragons outfielder Kosuke Fukudome hit a two-run homer and Takahashi followed with his homer one out later to give Japan a 6-0 cushion.

“I wanted to hit earlier in the game. We cleared the first round but that’s not our goal. The best thing is that we’ve been on a winning note. We have to keep fighting,” said Takahashi, who was hit in the upper right arm by a Nicholas Markakis pitch in the eighth.

Lotte Marines right-hander Shimizu, who lasted only 3 1/3 innings against Australia on Wednesday, struck out nine and held Greece to a run in 6 1/3 innings of work.

Shimizu combined with Hitoki Iwase, Daisuke Miura and Masahide Kobayashi on a four-hitter. Kobayashi struck out the side in order in the ninth.

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