Game 8
5 vs. MEA 0

Saturday, August 16, 2008
6:00PM ET

Moriuchi flirts with no-no in Japan victory
Saudi Arabia stays close, but Japan pulls away with four-run sixth to beat MEA champs 5-0

By Dan Ryan

“I had no idea I was closing in a no-hitter.”

These were the words of Japanese pitcher Ryosuke Moriuchi after his team beat MEA with a strong sixth inning.

Inning after inning and strike after strike, Moriuchi came closer to being a Williamsport legend. It wasn’t until the bottom of the sixth with one out that Chris Beyers of MEA singled. Even this play was close to being an out as the ground ball was scooped up by first baseman Takumi Ozeki and Beyers beat him to the bag in a foot race.

Coming in to the game, many would have expected Japan to win easily. Even Japan manager Shingo Ariyasu was not prepared for the challenge that MEA would present.

“We came in expecting to play a simple, easy game,” Ariyasu said. “But they ended up being a difficult and hard team to beat.”

The game cannot be told by the final score. Until the top of the sixth, it was up for grabs with Japan leading 1-0. That run was scored in the third without the benefit of a hit, coming across on a walk and pair of wild pitches.

Coming into the bottom of the fifth, MEA tried to confuse Japan as the first batter attempted a bunt, but a quick reaction by third baseman Daiki Murase got the runner out at first. The next batter faked a bunt and pulled back at the last moment to make contact with a full swing. Japanese second baseman Hironosuke Morita jumped just high enough to snag the ball and get the out. The inning eventually ended on another quick throw to first by Murase that beat the runner.

Then it was Japan’s last chance to add some cushion to its one run lead. Daiki Murase started the inning with a successful bunt to make it to first. Then Takumi Ozeki hit the ball and made it to second on an error.

This was enough to sway the momentum in favor of Japan as Yutaka Takeshita notched two RBI with a double to centerfield. Shodai Mizuno then hit a single that would have been an out, but was bobbled by MEA to advance Takeshita to third. Hironosuke Morita brought Takeshita home with a single. Finally, a wild pitch brought in the last run.

After the game, MEA manager James Durley was happy with the way his team fought against the Japanese squad.

“These kids have been looking forward to this game for a long time,” Durley said. “We played well tonight and we kept our composure for six innings. This shows that we can compete with anybody.”

MEA starting pitcher Chris Beyers was just as impressive as Moriuchi until the sixth inning. He put together a five-strikeout, 46-strike game. In fact, Beyers and Moriuchi both had pitch totals of 73.

2008, Little League Baseball Incorporated
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