Japan came from behind twice to defeat Mexico 6-5 on Monday and set up a World Baseball Classic final showdown with the United States.
Munetaka Murakami drove in a walk-off two-run double in the bottom of the ninth inning after Japan superstar Shohei Ohtani launched a late rally that capped a thrilling duel at Miami's LoanDepot Park.
Japan, who had trailed 3-0 and 5-3 during Monday's semi, now advance to a mouthwatering final against the star-studded USA in Miami on Tuesday.
Japan manager Hideki Kuriyama said after the win he had always believed in his players to dig themselves out of trouble.
"I know the more important the game it is, I think the last players become the more critical," Kuriyama said of the ninth inning rally.
"I always believed there's always the chance at the end, no matter how the game plays out."
Mexico counterpart Benji Gil meanwhile saluted the Japanese. He said: "We have to take off our hats to the Japanese team."
"Neither team deserved to lose, but someone had to win. Both teams had a great performance. I think that Japan moves on, but the world of baseball won today."
Japan are chasing a record third World Baseball Classic crown after winning the tournament in 2006 and 2009.
The country’s success in the sport meant that the World Baseball Classic is a widely followed event in Japan.
Baseball YouTuber Yuri Kasazawa says the tournament is more popular than the World Cup.
“Forty-eight percent of Japanese households watched the quarterfinals game this past week against Italy,” he said.
“A lot of people did tune in to the Fifa World Cup as well, baseball has such a long history in Japan and Japan is so good at baseball that the WBC really is just on a whole new level in the fact that this Japanese team is probably the greatest roster they’ve ever constructed. It’s just been huge in Japan.” (Additional reporting by AFP)