Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tokyo’s Musashi Fuchu Little League Wins its Second Little League Baseball World Championship

Little Leageu Baseball Photo
Japan Repeats as Takagi, Hirooka Shines at the Plate
South Williamsport, PA - Shunpei Takagi hit two home runs and Ryusei Hirooka put Japan ahead to stay with a run-scoring hit in the fifth inning en route to a 6-4 victory by Musashi Fuchu Little League over Eastlake Lake Little League in the World Championship game of the 67th Little League Baseball World Series at Howard J. Lamade Stadium in South Williamsport, Pa., Sunday afternoon.

The International Champions from Tokyo, Japan, overcame 2-0 and 4-3 deficits in the early stages of the game to take its only lead with a solo home run by Takagi (2-for-2, two RBI, three runs scored), his second of the game.

"All games at the Little League Baseball World Series are challenging and difficult," said Japan Manager Masumi Omae, after winning his second LLB World Championship. "We talked about going back to basics, which is what got us here. The winning factor in this game and all our games has been trust in our pitchers to go to the mound and finish innings."

In the top of the sixth inning, the U.S. Champs mounted a scoring threat, putting two runners on with one out. A double play ended the game and earned Japan its eighth LLB World Series title.

The West Region’s Grant Holman, who threw a seven-inning no-hitter earlier in the tournament for the United States Champions, was the starter. He could not match his earlier performance as Japan Region Champions racked up his pitch count early.

In the fourth inning, Keita Saito entered the game for starter Kazuki Ishida who hit Nick Mora to load the bases with no outs. Giancarlo Cortez, hit by a pitch in his first at-bat, followed with a solid single to the left-centerfield gap, scoring two for a 4-3 lead.

Ricky Tibbett, son of Eastlake Little League Manager Rick Tibbett, entered the game in the bottom of the fourth inning tasked with protecting the one-run lead.

Japan managed to push across the winning runs by taking pitches and capitalizing on pitches that were up in the zone. Both Takagi and Hirooka connected on pitches that were above the waist and over the plate. In contrast, the U.S. Champions did not take advantage of several opportunities to put the game out of reach.

Through five innings, Eastlake Little League stranded 11 runners on base, including leaving the bases loaded, while clinging to its one-run lead.

Japan’s Kyousuke Kobayashi was the winning pitcher, throw two scoreless innings to close out the game.