Discipline, Confidence, Execution Lead Japan to 2010 LLB World Series Title
Becomes First International Region Winner to Earn World Series Title Since 2004
Edogawa Minami Little League from Tokyo, Japan, became the First International Region Champion to win the Little League Baseball World Series in the past six years, by defeating Waipio Little League from Wiapahu, Hawaii, 4-1, in front of a Sunday afternoon crowd of 29,812 at Howard J. Lamade Stadium in South Williamsport, Pa.
The result was just the way Manager Shingo Ariyasu wanted it, as his team earned the win in his return visit to the World Series. Ariyasu guided Edogawa Minami Little League to the 2008 Series, but Japan was beaten by Mexico's National Champion in the International Championship Game.
This year, with a team he regarded as better, he brought the banner home.
“No slight to the 2008 kids, but, I’ve said it before: these 2010 kids are very bright,” Ariyasu said.
Edogawa Minami Little League won the title its way, becoming the first International Region Champion from Japan to take home the World Series banner since 2003 (Musashi-Fuchu Little League). The team did it with pitching and defense, aggressiveness and timely hitting, along with confidence and grace.
More than anything, however, Japan won Sunday with discipline. It made Hawaii pay for its walks and wild pitches, and avoided being hurt by its own two errors.
“I told them last night you cannot give [Japan] a free ride,” Hawaii Manager Brian Yoshii said. “They’re going to cause havoc on the bases. You have to make them earn the bases.”
Starting pitcher Cody Maltezo issued three walks in 5 2/3 innings, a few too many for Yoshii’s taste. He also threw five wild pitches, including one that allowed Masaya Ishii to score the game’s first run in the second inning.
Maltezo was never supposed to be pitching in such a meaningful game for Hawaii, however. Yoshii said the left-hander was probably his No. 6 pitcher, forced into action on the biggest stage because of Hawaii’s difficult run through the losers’ bracket. The U.S. Region Champions had to play games on five consecutive days after a losing to the Southeast Region Champions from Columbus (Ga.) Northern Little League in their first game of the tournament.
“He pitched a great game,” Yoshii said. “I believe in all these kids. I know when their number is called they won’t give up on their teammates.”
Japan also received a boost from an unlikely source Sunday. Konan Tomori drove in Japan’s second run with a fourth-inning single. He later added a two-run home run in the sixth inning to give Japan all the insurance runs it needed.
Tomori finished the game 2-for-2 with three runs batted in, but he wasn’t completely happy with his game.
“There were good and bad parts,” he said. “But the big picture is the team won, so I am happy.”
Some observers might have been hard pressed to find signs of joy from Japan after the final out settled into the glove of right fielder Teruma Nagata. Perhaps it was because many of the players couldn’t grasp what the moment meant, something they were still struggling with during the postgame press conference.
“I was so happy, I wasn’t thinking about anything,” said Ichiro Ogasawara, who earned his third save of the tournament with three scoreless innings.
Hawaii, meanwhile, was dejected. Yoshii said he was very proud of his team and was sure they would bounce back quickly. All that is left for the U.S. champions is a long plane ride back to Hawaii, which Yoshii is ready for.
“I’m ready to go back home,” he said. “But I love it here. There’s no losers that come here.”
Japan faces an even longer flight home, but one that is sure to be joyous. Before coming to Williamsport, the team played a friendly rival also from Tokyo. After that game, those players jokingly told the Edogawa Minami All-Stars not to come home without the championship.
The 64th Little League Baseball World Series Champions never wavered in their efforts to bring the title home to Toyko, which came as no surprise to their manager.
“They don’t give up even when they’re down,” Ariyasu said. “They’re very tough.”