Japan’s motto for success: Satoh
Japan right-hander Yoshinori Satoh picked up right where he left off after posting a 10-strikeout no-hitter against Russia last Saturday.
And this time around, he got to pitch in front of his father, who just arrived in Williamsport to watch the Series.
Satoh extended his streak of hitless innings to 8.2 on Wednesday before surrendering a bloop single to Guam No. 9 hitter Keith P.O. Rabago in the third. But Japan still claimed a 10-0 victory at Howard J. Lamade Stadium.
The 5-foot-4, 120-pound hurler allowed just two hits in a four-inning complete game. He struck out eight, including three (all looking) in the first, and did not walk a batter.
“Of course I wanted to throw (another) no-hitter,” Satoh said through an interpreter. “But I didn’t get it. I felt much better about today’s game, my fastball being the reason why. It was nice to have my father here.”
If the 9,000 spectators at this International semifinal believe Satoh is zany for thinking his two-hit game was better than his no-hitter Saturday afternoon, try this one on for size: Japan head coach Kazutomo Takahashi still believes he does not have a hitting team.
“It’s true, we’re not a strong hitting team,” he said. “Most of our game revolves around pitching and defense. We’ve always been a good pitching team.”
The Sendai Little League All-Stars scored one run in the first and busted the game wide open with five more in the fifth. Tsukasa Satoh’s base-clearing triple and Tatsuhiko Numakura’s two-run homer to
left-center highlighted the five-run frame in which Japan sent nine batters to the plate.
“I was waiting for the curveball, which is what I hit,” Numakura said of the home run. “Right now I have a lot of confidence in my hitting.”
In the fourth, Japan plated four more runs, activating the 10-run rule. Masafumi Kameoka, who led off the inning with a base hit up the middle, scored on a wild pitch. Three batters later, Tsukasa Satoh doubled home Yuuji Nakane. Yuushiro Doi also scored on the play after a Guam error. Yasushi Kuboki, the ninth hitter of the inning, singled in Numakura for the Japan’s tenth run.
Tsukasa Satoh finished the day 3-for-3 with four RBI.
“I just do my best during every at-bat,” he said. “I’m having fun.”
“It makes me relaxed when I’m pitching and we’re winning,” Yoshinori Satoh said of his team’s offensive output. “I definitely feel much better.”
Japan awaits the winner of Thursday’s International semifinal between Curacao and Venezuela. The Sendai Little Leaguers and the winner of that game square off in the International Championship on Saturday at 3 p.m.