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Japan Leaving South Williamsport with Second Consecutive Little League Baseball® World Series Crown
By Darian Somers
Game Attendance: 28,119
The banner is going back to Japan.
For the second straight season, the Japan Region is Little League Baseball® World Champions, defeating the United States champs from the West Region, 6-4, at Howard J. Lamade Stadium in South Williamsport, Pa., on Sunday afternoon in front of a crowd of 28,119 people.
"In all honesty, I'm really, really, really happy," manager Masumi Omae said through interpreter Kalani Taguchi. "I always dreamt about coming to the World Series again. To be able to trust the kids and their abilities is something I'm really, really happy about."
It's the second title for the Musashi Fuchu Little League -- and second for Omae -- who won it all in 2003. It's also the ninth time a Japanese team won the crown, and the 34th time a non-U.S. team has won the World Series Championship.
The Little Leaguers® from Japan had to battle back late to capture the crown, scoring the go-ahead runs in the fifth inning thanks to Ryusei Hirooka's double down the left-side line, scoring Takuma Gomi and Kyousuke Kobayashi.
First, Japan tied it up in the fifth with a solo home run from Shunpei Takagi to lead off the inning.
"I definitely was thinking I was going to get a hit, a hit, a hit," Takagi said through the translator. "Outcome wise, those turned into home runs. That was a good thing." It was Takagi's second homer of the game; two innings earlier, he sent his first long ball over the right-field wall.
"It's baseball, you know," West manager Rick Tibbett said. "You lose. You win. We will be playing baseball next weekend."
West jumped out to an early lead in the first inning when Micah Pietila-Wiggs scored on a passed ball, and Grant Holman knocked in Jake Espinoza.
Japan answered quickly -- something they did all game -- when Gomi drove in Shou Miyao, and Takagi came around to score on an errant throw.
After Takagi's first homer, West’s Little Leaguers from Chula Vista, Calif. took the lead as Giancarlo Cortez drove a hard single to left field, scoring Espinoza and Nick Mora. It put West ahead by one in the fourth, but Japan answered with its three-run fifth.
It took three Japan pitchers to get the win, combining to strike out eight U.S. batters, but they got the job done.
"The 2013 players definitely know how to have fun, and at times have too much fun," Omae said. "But overall, each player on the 2013 team brought more to the team than the 2003 team."