Yada, Yada, Yada; Go, Go, Go
Japans Earns Trip to World Series Title Game With 3-0 Win Over Mexico
By Brandon Miller
They are the best International Little League team in the world, and on Sunday, they will face the best team from the United States to find out who is the best of the best in the world.
Japan advanced to the Little League Baseball World Series Championship Game by virtue of a 3-0 win over Mexico in front of 22,455 fans at Howard J. Lamade Stadium.
Japan improved its record to 5-0 and will face the U.S. Champion Southeast All-Stars from Columbus, Ga., on Sunday, who earlier beat the Northwest All-Stars, 7-3, to advance to the title game.
Leading, 3-0, in the bottom of the sixth, Asia’s Seigo Yada was pitching like he had ice in his veins, until Mexico loaded the bases with three consecutive singles.
“(The team) didn’t start off as strong today,” said Yada through interpreter Bill Lundy. “I was putting more power in my pitches so as the game went on, I got tired and didn’t hit my spots. I thought I was going to be able to throw strikes and get everyone out.”
“I really had it in my mind that we were going to win this game,” said Mexico manager Candelario Perez through interpreter Micah Hughes. “We knew it was going to be a very difficult game and we knew it was going to be close.”
Japan called on Go Matsumoto to relieve Yada with the bases loaded and close out the game, which he promptly did.
“The whole game was on the line with the bases loaded,” said Matsumoto. “I was a bit nervous. I started throwing a few pitches and I knew it was there. I had a very good fastball.”
Matsumoto retired the first two batters he faced on six consecutive strikes and then induced Jose Ortiz to hit a dribbler to the first baseman who flipped to Matsumoto for the final out of the game.
“We’ve had other opportunities like that where we have come back to win, but we just couldn’t do it today,” said manager Perez. “We’re just not used to seeing the pitches coming in at 77-78 mph.
As it had done throughout the tournament, Japan used its power to get on the board.
In the top of the fourth, Yada provided some support for himself by driving a laser-like home run over the left-field wall for the first run of the game. It was his fourth home run of the World Series, a total that leads all players in the tournament.
“I thought (Barron) was great,” said Yada in reference to the fact that Barron retired the first nine Japan batters he faced. “I knew I had to do something, so I did.”
Japan then sent up pinch hitter Kohsuke Murata, who promptly singled. He was followed by Matsumoto, who smashed a towering home run to left-center field to increase the lead to 3-0. The home run chased Barron from the game, as Roberto Guajardo came in for relief.
“The home run (pitch) was right down the middle,” said Matsumoto.
If there was any advantage for Mexico having already faced Yada in the tournament, it wasn’t evident as he coolly retired batter after batter.
Yada fanned 11 Mexico hitters and only once allowed a runner to reach third base. His no-hitter was broken up in the bottom of the sixth when Omar Zamora led off the inning with a sharp line drive single into right field. It was Zamora’s third time reaching base in three at-bats after walking in the previous two.
“We weren’t able to adjust to the outside pitches,” said manager Perez. “We practiced as if we were going to bat against (Yada), but we just weren’t able to adjust.”
In the first meeting between the teams, Japan overpowered Mexico, hitting three home runs in one inning on their way to a 6-1 victory. Yada was the winning pitcher, striking out 12 while contributing one of the three Japanese homers. His only mistake was a first-inning home run to Jose Segoviano.
Again today, it was one bad inning that doomed the Mexico squad as home runs proved the difference once more.
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