Source: South Williamsport, Pa.
Date/Time: Saturday, August 25, 12:30 ET
The kids from Tokyo, Japan are the Little League World Series International champions after defeating the Latin America champions from Aguadulce, Panama, on Saturday at Lamade Stadium, 10-2, and advance to Sunday’s final World Series game for the championship.
Both Japan and Latin America went in to this game yearning for the win that would advance them one step closer to Little League and international glory.
In the first inning, Japan came in with a bang, scoring two runs off of back-to-back home runs by Kotaro Kiyomiya and Satoru Aoyama. Latin America made a good first inning of their own thanks to an RBI single by Edisson Gonzalez, making it a 2-1 ball game.
Japan added another two runs in the top of the second, despite efforts from Latin America pitcher James Gonzalez. A wild pitch sent Danji Takahashi home and then a hit from Takuto Miyashita brought in another run, putting Japan ahead, 4-1.
Latin America scored a run in the bottom of the second with an RBI double by Daniel Fernandez. Japan pitcher Yuta Ishida managed to keep any other opposing threats at bay, cutting the deficit to two runs.
In the third inning, Japan added one run off a home run by Rintaro Hirano. Gonzalez escaped the inning without any further damage by striking out two of the four batters that inning.
“I didn’t realize it would be a home run,” said Hirano, “but it felt good”.
Japan kept its offense going with another home run by Kiyomiya in the fourth inning after Noriatsu scored, putting Japan up 7-2.
“Compared to the timing of the home run in the last game against Latin America, I thought this one came at a better time. Also I think this one went farther,” said Kiyomiya.
Japan essentially closed the door for good in the fifth inning with a 3-run home run by Osaka. A Japan pitching change in the bottom of the fifth brought in Shun Oshima and a complete shutdown of the Latin America team. Oshima and Ishida kept Latin America's bats quiet for the final four innings, not yielding a run.
“Japanese pitching is the best here in the tournament. Japan is going to be the World Series champion this year,” said Latin America manager Luis Gonzales.
Japan plays the winner of the United States championship on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Lamade Stadium for the Little League World Series championship.