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The Japan Region Champions from Tokyo emerged victorious from their game against the Asia-Pacific Region Champions from Taoyuan, Chinese Taipei, 3-2, after giving up two late runs and putting the tying run on base, advancing Japan one game closer to the Little League Baseball® World Series championship.
With the tying runner on first base, Japan pitcher Kyousuke Kobayashi was able to record the final out when he got Chen-Hsun Lee to fly out to center field.
“He’s always been told by the manger to be ready at any time,” Kobayashi said through an interpreter after the game. However, for one moment when the ball left the bat, he admitted he was scared.
The decisive hit for Japan came in the top of the sixth when Takuma Gomi homered to center field, scoring two runs and giving Japan a 3-0 lead. In that moment, Gomi said he was thinking only about what he could do to help his team win.
Already losing 1-0, Asia-Pacific attempted to come back in the bottom of the fifth, but in the end they would falter. With a runner on first base, Teng-Yu Wang attempted to bunt, but popped it up, allowing Japan to execute a double play. The next batter flied out in foul territory and ended the threat for that inning.
After the game, Asia-Pacific’s manager Kuo-Chiang Lee acknowledged that point in the game as a key moment. He said they had plenty of opportunities, but they also made some mistakes, which they are going to have to improve upon.
However, he also acknowledged that there is a lesson to be learned in losing. “It doesn’t matter to win or lose,” he said. He added that, since the kids performed very well despite the loss, they still think they can win in the future.
Asia-Pacific will now play in an elimination-round game Monday at 2 p.m., against the Caribbean champions from San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, Japan advances in the winners’ bracket, and will play on Wednesday, Aug. 21 at 4 p.m., against the Mexico champions from Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico.