Sunday, March 24, 2013

Team Japan's Hiro, Ibata Named to All-WBC Team

The 2013 All-World Baseball Classic Team was released after the completion of the tournament last week. Chunichi shortstop Hirokazu Ibata was one of only two Japanese players named to the team.  Ibata was named best designated hitter and Hiroshima pitcher Kenta Maeda was also selected as one of three pitchers.

Ibata was not originally expected to be a starting player for this year's team, but after coming through with a clutch RBI pinch-hit in Japan's first game against Brazil and a nice game at the plate in his first start (Japan's third game) manager Yamamoto decided to stick with Ibata's hot bat.  From then on Ibata started every game, mainly at DH, and continued to rack up the hits.  His final totals included 10 hits in 18 AB (a .556 average), with 6 runs scored, 4 RBIs and 5 walks.  Ibata also continued to be clutch knocking in the game-tying run in the 9th inning of a second-round game against Chinese Taipei and getting Japan on the board by knocking in their only run against Puerto Rico in the 3-1 loss that eliminated Japan from the tournament.

A truly exceptional and unexpected performance by Ibata, hopefully he can carry the momentum into the season, which is now less than a week away.

The rest of the All-WBC team can be seen here, as posted on yakyubaka.

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