Japan's Shohei Ohtani celebrates after hitting a home run during the World Baseball Classic (WBC) Pool B round game against Australia
Tokyo (AFP) - Shohei Ohtani hit his first home run of the World Baseball Classic as Japan advanced to the quarter-finals as Pool B winners Sunday with a 7-1 win over Australia.
Facing just his second pitch of the game, the Los Angeles Angels superstar blasted a three-run shot into the Tokyo Dome stands to set Japan on their way towards a perfect group stage record of four wins out of four.
They will play the runners-up from Pool A in Tokyo on Thursday.
Australia will join them in the last eight and face the winners of Pool A if they beat the Czech Republic on Monday.
Japan sent a warning to the rest of the competition that they will be serious contenders to win a record third title after a flying start against the Australians.
Ohtani, whose every move this week has been cheered by an adoring crowd, almost hit a giant picture of his own face on an advertising board with his mammoth home run in the first inning.
Japan’s early barrage was so fierce that Australia replaced starting pitcher Will Sherriff before the first inning had even finished.
Japan added two more runs in the second inning to establish total dominance, although Alex Hall hit a consolation home run for Australia in the ninth inning.
Earlier in the day, South Korea beat the Czech Republic 7-3 to pick up their first win of the tournament.