Source: South Williamsport, Pa.
Date/Time: Day, August 19, 7:00pm ET
The best game was saved for last as Tokyo, Japan, Little League defeated Asia-Pacific champions Taoyuan, Chinese Taipei, Little League, 2-0, in nine innings in the nightcap at the Little League World Series on Sunday at Lamade Stadium.
Fans got a treat in the extra inning showcase when Hajime Motegi hit a walk-off home run to win he game for Japan, As evident by the score, the game was all about pitching. Between the two teams' pitchers, they had 30 strike outs. The starters for Japan and Asia-Pacific, Yuta Ishida and Chun-Hsiao Chen, respectively, combined for 22 strike outs after six innings pitched each.
That really was the story of the game. Until the starters left after six innings, the game remained scoreless, with the teams combining for five hits. Japan would only manage two against Chen, while Asia-Pacific was only able to muster three.
Asia-Pacific manager Cheng-Ta Lee said Chen has always been one of his best pitchers.
“I’m very happy for his performance,” Lee said.
Japan’s Noriatsu Osaka also complimented Chen during the post-game press conference. He said Chen was very good and they couldn’t get any offense going against him.
Therefore, because of both starters’ dominance, it was up to Osaka to keep Asia-Pacific’s bats quiet when he came in for Yuta Ishida at the start of the top of the seventh.
“I tried to shut down their offense,” he said.
While Osaka continued to frustrate Asia-Pacific's batters, Japan would slowly begin to figure out their opponent’s pitching. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Japan would put runners on second and third with two outs and force Asia-Pacific to make a pitching change. Luckily, Asia-Pacific was able to escape the inning unscathed. In the bottom of the eighth, Asia-Pacific would be forced to make another pitching change, but would escape again, this time with bases loaded.
Japan would finally cash in on their chances the very next inning when, with a runner on second, Motegi hit his walk-off home run to end the game.
“I didn’t realize it’s going to be a home run,” Motegi said after the game of his hit.
When a team loses a game as tight as this one, it always tough on the players. Manager Lee had a message for his team after the game. He told the players to cheer up and enjoy the experience.
“They still got another life,” he said.
The loss drops Asia-Pacific into the losers' bracket where they'll face Mexico champions Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, on Monday in an elimination game at 6 p.m. at Volunteer Stadium. Japan plays Latin America champions Aguadulce, Panama, on Wednesday at Lamade Stadium at 4 p.m.