Japanese pitching sensation Roki Sasaki will make his World Baseball Classic debut Saturday, the 12th anniversary of the March 11 earthquake-tsunami disaster that took the lives of his father and grandparents.
The tsunami washed away his house, forcing his family to move from the city of Rikuzentakata to Ofunato within Iwate Prefecture, one of the hardest-hit areas of the disaster.
Public viewing events are planned in those two cities for Sasaki's outing against the Czech Republic.
The 21-year-old Lotte Marines right-hander made his final tune-up at Tokyo Dome on Friday before Japan played South Korea in their second Pool B game.
Sasaki has said he will do whatever he can for the team led by fellow Iwate native and Los Angeles Angels two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani.
Sasaki's feats on the mound brought him nationwide attention in Japan while he was still a schoolboy.
In April 2019, he touched 163 kilometers (101 miles) per hour with his fastball while pitching for Ofunato High School.
Three years later, Sasaki drew extra attention from major league scouts by throwing a perfect game against the Orix Buffaloes with 19 strikeouts, including a Nippon Professional Baseball-record 13 straight.