TOKYO (AP) — Sho Tanaka drove in the winning run on a sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th inning as Japan beat Taiwan 4-3 in the second round of the World Baseball Classic.
Tanaka's deep fly to the warning track in left allowed Nobuhiro Matsuda to score from third. Toshiya Suguichi retired Taiwan in the bottom of the 10th to nail down the win.
"There is nothing better than coming through for your teammates and fans when you get a chance like that," Tanaka said. "This was a huge win for us and I'm glad I was able to contribute."
Two-time defending champion Japan will face the Netherlands on Sunday with a chance to secure a spot in the March 17-19 final round in San Francisco.
Taiwan must beat Cuba on Saturday in order to move on. The Netherlands beat Cuba 6-2 earlier Friday.
Japan is attempting to win a third straight WBC title without its top players from Major League Baseball.
Taiwan took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth when Szu-Chi Chou singled to center to score Cheng-Min Peng from third. But Japan came right back to tie the game in the top of the ninth when Hirokazu Ibata hit a two-out single to center that scored Takashi Toritani from third.
Taiwan held a 2-0 lead through eighth inning before Japan tied the game in the top of the eighth with a pair of runs. Ibata led off with a single, advanced to third on a single to right by Seiichi Uchikawa and scored on a Shinnosuke Abe single to right.
Hayato Sakamoto then hit a single that deflected off the shortstop, allowing pinch runner Yuichi Honda to score from third.
"This was an entire team effort," Japan manager Koji Yamamoto said. "Our hitters came through when we needed them and the pitchers did a great job."