A week of festivities, fun and friendly competition concludes Sunday when the Little League World Series hosts its 71st championship game. Two teams -- Lufkin, Texas, from the United States and Tokyo Kitasuna of Japan from the international bracket -- will battle to become the last squad standing from the
A week of festivities, fun and friendly competition concludes Sunday when the Little League World Series hosts its 71st championship game. Two teams -- Lufkin, Texas, from the United States and Tokyo Kitasuna of Japan from the international bracket -- will battle to become the last squad standing from the 16-team field.
With talented youngsters showcasing their love for the game in a winner-take-all scenario, it's no wonder that the LLWS final has provided some of the most iconic moments in the history of America's pastime. In no particular order, here are 10 championship tilts that made viewers just as excited as the kids who played in these games.
This game ended in a seven-run Japan victory, but it was nothing short of a spectacle. Pennsylvania scored 10 runs in the bottom of the first to take a 10-2 lead, but the scoring was far from over. Japan rallied for seven runs in the second (including back-to-back-to-back homers) and added four in the third to take the lead for good. The grand total between the teams: 29 runs (a championship game record) on 28 hits, including seven home runs (also a record) in Japan's 18-11 triumph.
This is one of the wackiest box scores in baseball history, let alone in LLWS lore. California took a combined no-hit bid into the sixth against Texas but trailed, 2-1, thanks to three costly errors.
But it was Mike Salvatore -- who hit a game-winning home run in the semifinal and pitched the first five innings of the championship game -- who saved the day again with a walk-off, three-run homer to give California a 4-2 victory.
Speaking of no-hitters, Han-Chao Dai threw an eight-inning no-hitter to help Chinese Taipei win the crown. Dai's squad tied the game at one in the fifth with a homer from Chao-An Chen, who threw an 18-strikeout perfect game earlier in the tournament in one of the best LLWS performances ever. The game remained knotted at one until Chinese Taipei's second hit pushed across the winning run in the bottom of the eighth for a 2-1 final.
While the previous two entries featured no-hitters and walk-off wins, the '57 title game simply made history. What more can be said about Angel Macias' perfect game in Mexico's 4-0 triumph? The game may not be as competitive as others on this list, but the looming tension of a 12-year-old's dominance made it unforgettable.
International teams had won nine of the previous 11 championships, and Curacao hoped to make it 10 of 12 against Hawaii, holding a three-run lead heading into the bottom of the sixth. The home team tied it, and Michael Memea hit a walk-off homer in the seventh to give Hawaii a 7-6 win and its first -- and to date, only -- LLWS title. It wasn't all bad for Curacao, who had won it all the previous year on the strength of future Major Leaguer Jurickson Profar.
California's Gavin Fabian took a no-hit bid and a three-run lead into the bottom of the sixth against Mexico, but the U.S. champs came out with the loss after a wild comeback by their opponent. Mexico drew back-to-back walks to start the inning, then drew even on one swing: a Gabriel Alvarez three-run homer. Pablo Torres' walk-off single capped off Mexico's most recent LLWS title.
Just a few years prior, California brought home the championship on the strength of future Major Leaguer Sean Burroughs and some late-inning heroics. Burroughs hit .600 in the tournament and threw two no-hitters. However, it was Jeremy Hess, not Burroughs, who came through with a pinch-hit, walk-off single with the bases loaded to win it all.
California's 2-1 victory was the last title for the United States until New York won it all last year, and it almost didn't happen; Hurricane Irene's wrath delayed the start for three-plus hours. Once the game began, the world was in for a treat. Nick Pratto smacked a walk-off single in the sixth inning to give his squad a 2-1 win over Japan and set off one of the most jubilant celebrations in LLWS history. Pratto was taken 14th overall in this year's MLB Draft, and his LLWS teammate Hagen Danner was taken 61st.
Dalton Carriker ended his eye-popping LLWS run with a walk-off home run for Georgia in the bottom of the eighth inning in a 3-2 victory over Japan. Carriker finished the tournament 11-for-16, and his opposite-field homer gave his state its second consecutive World Series title.
There's something to be said about being the first to do something, which is why the '55 tilt rounds out this list. Rich Cominski's long ball in the bottom of the seventh gave Pennsylvania the title over New Jersey in one of the last tournaments played with only U.S. teams. The game featured the first extra-inning matchup and the first walk-off home run in title contest history.
On Sunday, the 2017 Little League World Series championship will pit Southwest, winners of the U.S. title game against Japan, the international victors. Don't miss a minute of the action from Williamsport at 3 p.m. ET.
*Dylan Hornik is a contributor to MLB.com.*