Tokyo opens International Pool Play
with 4-2 win
In the first game of the 2001
Little League World Series played at Howard J. Lamade stadium, team
Asia, represented by Tokyo Kitasuna Little League dominated the
Transatlantic team from the Arabian American Little League.
It did not take long for Asian pitcher Kazuki Ohkawara to let his
Transatlantic opponents and the 3,500 in attendance know that he was
in charge. Ohkawara started the game off by striking out the first two
batters he faced and did not allow a base hit until the third inning,
when Blake Dieterich hit a bloop to shallow center.
Tokyo’s offense gave Ohkawara all of the run support that he needed.
Leadoff hitter Yousuki Nomura scored on a passed ball in the bottom of
the first, and then Tokyo put two more runs on the board in the second
inning with Tsubasa Sumiyoshi and Ohkawara both crossing the plate.
The Arabian American All-Stars seemed to have a breath of life in the
bottom of the fourth, with runners at the corners and Wesley Lee at
the plate. Ohkawara, however, struck out Lee to get out of the jam.
Tokyo padded their lead in the bottom of the fifth, when Nomura scored
on a Nobuhisa Baba double to the left-center gap.
Ohkawara was stellar through
five innings. In the sixth, however, the Arabian American team found
their bats. Craig Lumpa lead off the inning with a bunt single, and
was moved over to third on a double by Cord Heine. Nikko Echevarria
drove in Lumpa with a single, and Heine scored on Drew Crafton’s
sacrifice fly to pull the transatlantic team to within two runs. After
walking Jed Ibrahim, Ohkawara was lifted from the mound and replaced
by Natsuki Sugisawa.
“I really started to get tired in the fifth inning, I am not happy
with how I pitched today,” Ohkawara said.
Sugisawa loaded the bases with a walk before striking out Blythe
Bumstead on a full count. With the bases full, his team behind by two
runs and down to their last out, Nate Hunt fell victim to three nasty
Sugisawa strikes. The strikeout ended the game, with Tokyo on top
“I was very nervous when I took over,” Sugisawa said. “I knew
that we had to win, so I just concentrated on each batter as they came
Arabian American manager Tommy Bumstead was pleased with his team’s
showing in their first Little League World Series game, “My hat is
off to these kids, they worked hard all summer long to get here and
they played well today.”
Though potent enough to edge out the Arabian American All-Stars,
Tokyo’s offense did not meet the expectations of manager Yohichi
Kubo, “We want five runs a game,” Kubo said. “In this tournament
it is very important to get at least five runs a game.”