Japan’s pitching keeps getting better
The pitching staff of the Sendi Higashi Little League has thrown two no-hitters in as many games. And their ace hasn’t even pitched yet.
“We have four pitchers,” Japanese manager Kazutomo Takahashi said through a translator. “Our best pitcher has yet to pitch.”
Yuuji Nakane, the third man in the rotation for the Japanese squad, got the nod to start against the Contry de Monterrey Little Leaguers from Monterrey, Mexico on Monday night.
Nakane no-hit the Mexican team in Japan’s 11-0 win, striking out nine in the process.
“I had a great time today,” the pitcher said through a translator. “I was slow getting started, but then I got comfortable out on the mound, and I started having fun.”
Before Yoshinori Satoh threw his no-hit gem on Saturday against Europe, there had not been a no-hitter in the Little League World Series since 1993.
Nakane did not need much run support for the victory, but got quite a bit anyway. Most of the offense came from Nakane’s battery mate, catcher Tatsuhiko Numakura.
Numakura had a grand slam in the first inning and followed with a double in the second inning, driving in three runs.
“I knew that the grand slam was going to be a home run as soon as I hit the ball because it really hurt my hands,” Numakura said through an interpreter. “My hitting is always on or off, I guess today it was on.”
Tomoya Kanda also provided offense for the Japanese team. The 4-foot-5 second baseman roped an RBI double to right with two outs in the second inning to give his team a commanding 9-0 lead.
“I wanted to get a triple,” Kanda said through a translator. “But my coach did not let me run past second base.”
With its win, Japan reserves a spot in either Wednesday or Thursday’s International semifinal. A showdown Tuesday with Curacao will decide the Pool D champion.
“I do not know who I am going to have pitch either against [Curacao] or in the semifinal,” Takahashi said.
Looking at their dominance so far, whoever pitches will undoubtedly be tough.