Japan's two-way star Shohei Ohtani will start on the mound against Italy in the World Baseball Classic quarterfinals on Thursday at Tokyo Dome, skipper Hideki Kuriyama announced.
Ohtani on Wednesday was named MVP of Pool B on the WBC's official Twitter account following his starring performances so far in the tournament.
"It will be a pretty hard game," Ohtani said at a press conference after being asked about facing Pool A runner-up Italy. "I'll give my best to make the most of each run we score."
The 28-year-old kick-started Samurai Japan's four-game unbeaten run last Thursday, holding China to a single hit while striking out five in four innings to earn the win in their opening game.
At the plate, Ohtani has batted .500 after going 6-for-12 with eight RBIs and blasting a three-run home run against Australia in Japan's last pool game Sunday.
Japan is seeking its third WBC title and its first in three editions of the tournament.