Game 20
Japan 5
 vs. Latin America 4

Tuesday, August 19, 2008
12:00PM ET

Close Call
Negated Venezuela paves way to Japan’s 5-4 victory, clinching first place in Pool D

By Erin Kriner

A run that scored but wasn’t allowed. That was the difference for Venezuela and Japan in a match up to decide first-place honors for Pool D on Tuesday.

With the score tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth, Venezuela scored what appeared to be the game-winning run after a Pedro Floridson sacrifice bunt brought home Jesus Tremont all the way from second base. But it was ruled that Tremont had left the base early, and he was ordered back too the bag. After Japan reliever Yutaka Takeshita walked Roberto Mortonta to load the bases, he got out of the inning by striking out Will Changarotty.

The momentum stayed with Japan, which scored two runs in the seventh and held on for a 5-4 win to clinch first place in Pool D.

Japan will play in Wednesday’s international semi-final game against the winner of Tuesday night’s Guam-Curacao. Venezuela, meanwhile, will take on Mexico in Thursday’s international semifinal.

Japan snapped the 3-3 tie in the seventh when Takeshita’s sacrifice fly scored Tsuyoki Setoguchi from third. Japan would tack on another run when Ryo Motegi scored from third on a wild pitch.

“When we arrived here the dream came true,” said Japan manager Shingo Ariyasu through an interpreter. “I always say do your best. We approach every game seriously and every game is important.”

Venezuela didn’t go down quietly, making a comeback in its half of the seventh when Aroldo Sanchez smashed a home run into deep left center field off Takeshita that made it a one-run game. Then, with one out and Gustavo Perdomo on first, Jesus Tremont hit a liner to the left-centerfield gap. Perdomo tried to come all the way around on the play, but was tagged out at the plate by catcher Daiki Murase after two perfect relay throws.

Takeshita then got Kevin Reyes to fly out to end the game.

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