The entire 2023 World Baseball Classic was building to the exact moment that arrived in the ninth inning: two outs, a one-run game, and Japan’s Shohei Ohtani on the mound to face Team USA’s Mike Trout. The Angels teammates held up their end of the deal to deliver an iconic moment—and one that culminated in Japan’s dominant run to its third WBC title.
Ohtani struck out Trout on six pitches, getting his fellow MVP to whiff on three swings to clinch a 3–2 victory. The electric at-bat was the exclamation point on an undefeated tournament for the Japanese, who went 7–0 and outscored opponents 56–18. Ohtani was named the event’s MVP after batting .435/.606/.739 with two wins, the title-clinching save and a 1.86 ERA on the mound.
The result capped a thrilling tournament that served as a perfect appetizer to the fast-approaching MLB season. And Ohtani’s finale against Trout only furthered the excitement and provided a fitting ending.
Naturally, the resolution to this year’s WBC inspired tons of reactions across social media. Here are some of the best of the bunch.