Source: South Williamsport, Pa.
Date/Time: Thursday, August 18, 2011, 5:00pm ET
A grand slam from starting pitcher Yoshiki Suzuki broke open the scoring for Japan, and sent the defending Little League baseball World Series Champions off to a 12-1, four-inning victory in its first game of the 2011 Little League Baseball World Series.
Suzuki blasted the ball into deep left-center field. The home run sent the crowd into a frenzy, and caused Suzuki to throw his hands into the air as he rounded first base. Japan batted around in the six-run second inning.
Japan’s biggest weapon was its quickness out of the batter’s box. Despite softly hit balls in the infield, the team from Hamamatsu, Japan, wouldn’t be beaten by the throw.
Using the bunt to their advantage, “I let the players make the calls, I don’t give them a sign” Japan manager Yoshihiro Atsumi said.
Japan hit the ball hard and they hit it often. The most prolific hitter of the night for Japan was starting center fielder Mitsuhiro Uchida who had three hits, three runs batted in, and one run scored in four trips to the plate. The combination of hard hits and superb base running lead the team to victory.
Caribbean coach Estefano Croes believes the loss is merely a bump in the road. “I believe we have a really good team,” Croes said. “This was just nerves and it should be a good tournament for us.”
The Caribbean team started to put together some late action but the 12-run lead was a daunting number to overcome so late in the game.
The Aruban team scored a run in the final inning after a hustling effort from Endry Brito to send his teammate on first base in for the run. The team will look to put the nerves aside and finish strong the rest of the way, hopefully en route to the championship where one game will be a distant memory.