Japan beats Mexico for International championship at Little League World Series
Japan scored twice in the third inning and twice more in the fourth on the way to a 5-2 win over Mexico on Saturday in the International championship game at the Little World Series in front of 10,425 at Lamade Stadium.
In Sunday’s final, Japan of the Hamamatsu Minami Little League of Hamamatsu City, will play the winner of Saturday’s U.S. championship game between Ocean View Little League of Huntington Beach and the Montana team from Billings.
Japan, which had lost to Mexico in extra innings earlier in the tournament, scored first Saturday, putting up two runs in the top of the third inning. That rally started with a leadoff infield single from shortstop Gaishi Iguchi off Mexico starting pitcher Jorge Jacobo.
Seiya Fujita followed with a double that scored Iguchi, and Fujita scored on an error on the throw to the plate. Japan had two more hits in the inning but left the bases loaded.
Japan scored two more runs in the top of the fourth inning after Asuya Otsuka led off with a single and ended up on third base when the left fielder let the ball get under his glove. After two outs, Kaito Suzuki scored Otsuka with a single to left. Suzuki then scored on an RBI double from Mitsuhiro Uchida.
Mexico finally scored in the bottom of the fourth inning. Alonso Garcia led off the inning with a double, moved to third on a fielder's choice and scored when pinch-hitter Victor Bejarano slapped a tricky ground ball that Japan’s third baseman Seiya Fujita couldn’t handle. It was ruled an error and Garcia scored to make to cut Mexico's deficit to 4-1.
Japan added a run in the top of the fifth on a two-out RBI single from Asuya Otsuka.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Mexico got the one run back when Carlos Arellano led off with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch, went to third on a groundout by Daniel Guillen and scored on Jorge Jacobo’s hard-hit triple
But Mexico couldn’t get Jacobo across the plate so the game went to the sixth inning with Japan ahead 5-2.
In its final chance the Mexican team, the Seguro Social Little League from Mexicali, had a moment of hope when Alvaro Valdez beat out an infield single with two outs and moved to second on a wild pitch. But Kenet Delgado, after working the count to 3 and 2, struck out looking to end the game.
--Diane Pucin, reporting from South Williamsport, Pa.
Photo: Players from Japan celebrate a home run by Sotaro Yoshida (9) during a victory over Saudi Arabia in a pool-play game earlier this week at the Little League World Series. Credit: Matt Slocum / Associated Press