Japan to face South Korea in World Baseball Classic on Friday

Japan will play South Korea on Friday in the first round of the World Baseball Classic.

Japan trounced China 8 to 1 in the opening game on Thursday with Major League two-way star Ohtani Shohei throwing four scoreless innings and hitting a two-run double.

South Korea suffered a 7-8 loss to Australia in their opener on the same day.

Japan and South Korea have a 4-4 head-to-head record in previous World Baseball Classic events.

Darvish Yu is expected to start for Japan in Friday's game.

Japan's manager Kuriyama Hideki said he had wanted to name Darvish as starting pitcher and the day has finally come. He added that the game will be a crucial one and his team will go all out to clinch a victory.

Japan is aiming for its third World Baseball Classic title after winning the tournament in 2006 and 2009.