WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Japan overpowered Texas in the Little League World Series championship game, 12-2, on Sunday. The victory marks the fifth time that a Japanese team has won the title since 2010.Even though the gutsy squad from Lufkin, Texas, came up short of the ultimate prize, the team advanced
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Japan overpowered Texas in the Little League World Series championship game, 12-2, on Sunday. The victory marks the fifth time that a Japanese team has won the title since 2010.
Even though the gutsy squad from Lufkin, Texas, came up short of the ultimate prize, the team advanced further than any Southwest region or Texas team ever had.
After the game, the Japan kids reminded everyone of the role that sportsmanship plays in Little League, stating that they had become fond of the Texas players throughout the 11-day tournament.
"We traded pins, batting gloves, shirts and a lot of other stuff in the Grove," Ryusei Fujiwara said.
The United States champion jumped on Japan quickly. Leadoff man Chandler Spencer hit a homer on the first pitch from Japan starter Tsubasa Tomii for a quick U.S. lead.
Two batters later, Hunter Ditsworth belted an opposite-field shot to give Southwest a 2-0 margin, but Japan would answer with plenty of its own power.
"I was concerned a little bit after the second homer, but I maintained my composure and started to hit my corners," Tomii said. "I felt fine."
A three-run rally with two outs in the second inning, keyed by a two-run triple from Keitaro Miyahara, put Japan ahead, 3-2, and that would hold up.
Japan's bats fully erupted in the fourth inning, as it scored four runs on three long homers -- by Daisuke Hashimoto, Natsuki Yajima and Miyahara -- that landed halfway up the hill at Lamade Stadium, effectively putting the game away.
"I was in pain, but going through tough practices in Tokyo, I learned to block out the pain," said Miyahara, who homered after fouling a ball hard off his leg. He finished a single short of a cycle, going 3-for-4 with five RBIs.
Tomii continued Japan's run of dominant pitching, which was even more outstanding than the team's bats. Tomii gave up just two runs on three hits while striking out nine in the complete-game effort.
A barrage of Japan hits in the fifth inning plated five more runs and invoked the mercy rule, ending the game at 12-2.
As a team, Japan outscored opponents, 39-3, in the LLWS, as the Kitasuna Little Leaguers from Tokyo finished their undefeated run on top.
"We were thrilled to win the Japan region," Miyahara said. "But now, being here in Williamsport, it can't get any better than this."
Mike McCormick is a reporter for MLB.com.