Moriuchi flirts with no-no in Japan
Saudi Arabia stays close, but
Japan pulls away with four-run sixth to beat MEA champs 5-0
By Dan Ryan
“I had no idea I was closing in a no-hitter.”
These were the words of Japanese pitcher Ryosuke Moriuchi after his
team beat MEA with a strong sixth inning.
Inning after inning and strike after strike, Moriuchi came closer to
being a Williamsport legend. It wasn’t until the bottom of the sixth
with one out that Chris Beyers of MEA singled. Even this play was
close to being an out as the ground ball was scooped up by first
baseman Takumi Ozeki and Beyers beat him to the bag in a foot race.
Coming in to the game, many would have expected Japan to win easily.
Even Japan manager Shingo Ariyasu was not prepared for the
challenge that MEA would present.
“We came in expecting to play a
simple, easy game,” Ariyasu said. “But they ended up being a
difficult and hard team to beat.”
The game cannot be told by the final score. Until the top of the
sixth, it was up for grabs with Japan leading 1-0. That run was
scored in the third without the benefit of a hit, coming across on a
walk and pair of wild pitches.
Coming into the bottom of the fifth, MEA tried to confuse Japan as
the first batter attempted a bunt, but a quick reaction by third
baseman Daiki Murase got the runner out at first. The next batter
faked a bunt and pulled back at the last moment to make contact with
a full swing. Japanese second baseman Hironosuke Morita jumped just
high enough to snag the ball and get the out. The inning eventually
ended on another quick throw to first by Murase that beat the
Then it was Japan’s last chance to add some cushion to its one run
lead. Daiki Murase started the inning with a successful bunt to make
it to first. Then Takumi Ozeki hit the ball and made it to second on
This was enough to sway the momentum in favor of Japan as Yutaka
Takeshita notched two RBI with a double to centerfield. Shodai
Mizuno then hit a single that would have been an out, but was
bobbled by MEA to advance Takeshita to third. Hironosuke Morita
brought Takeshita home with a single. Finally, a wild pitch brought
in the last run.
After the game, MEA manager James Durley was happy with the way his
team fought against the Japanese squad.
“These kids have been
looking forward to this game for a long time,” Durley said. “We
played well tonight and we kept our composure for six innings. This
shows that we can compete with anybody.”
MEA starting pitcher Chris Beyers was just as impressive as Moriuchi
until the sixth inning. He put together a five-strikeout, 46-strike
game. In fact, Beyers and Moriuchi both had pitch totals of 73.
© 2008, Little League Baseball
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