Little League World Series Live Blog: Japan, Panama Clash in International Final
Japan advances to play on Sunday’s Little League World Series Championship Game after defeating Panama 10-2 in Saturday’s International Championship Game.
Japan rode their hot hitting and dominant pitching to yet another victory that will keep them undefeated in Williamsport. Kotaro Kiyomiya hit two home runs for Japan and Yuta Ishida threw four great innings on the mound. Noriatsu Osaka also hit a home run for the Japanese champions and had four RBI.
Japan will take on the winner of the United States Championship Game between Tennessee and California. Japan advances to their third straight Little League World Series final, splitting their last two appearances.
Thank you to all who followed my updates. Be sure to switch over to my live blog on Saturday’s second championship game.
Bottom 6: Japan leads 10-2
Last chance for romance for the kids from Panama. They have three outs to score at least eight runs in order to keep this game going. Can they pull off the biggest comeback of the tournament against arguably the top team in Williamsport? Let’s find out.
Osaka will come in to pitch the sixth inning for Japan.
E. Gonzalez strikes out looking on three pitches and there’s one down in the sixth.
J. Gonzalez walks on four pitches and this is Panama’s shot at a rally. That was the first walk allowed by Osaka in Williamsport.
Sanchez strikes out looking and Panama is down to its final out.
Agrazal hits a double to center field that rolls all the way to the wall. Runner is held at third base and now Panama has runners on second and third with two down.
Osaka will be replaced by Motegi, who will try to get the final out of the game.
Velis strikes out and that’s your ball game.
Japan defeats Panama 10-2 to win the International Championship.
Top 6: Japan leads 10-2
Japan can sit back and relax as they hold an eight-run lead over Panama going into the last inning.
Kiyomiya leads off the inning and has already hit two home runs today. Fernandez strikes him out!
Aoyama comes up and hits a single by the second baseman.
Ishida grounds into a fielder’s choice. James Gonzalez makes a great play at shortstop to get the lead runner. Two outs and one man on for Japan.
Osada flies out to left field and that ends the inning.
To the bottom of the sixth inning we go!
Bottom 5: Japan leads 10-2
Is it possible for Panama to comeback after being down eight runs? Sure, but it’s probably not going to happen. Ishida has been rolling and they haven’t gotten anything together in a while. Luckily for Panama, Oshima is now on the mound for Japan.
Crisp strikes out to start the fifth inning. Panama is down to its final five outs.
Fernandez rips a single to right field.
Fernandez advances to second on a wild pitch with Nieto up at bat.
Nieto strikes out for the second out. It’s the eighth strikeout on the day for Japanese pitchers.
Cruz whiffs on strike three and Oshima strikes out the side in the fifth inning.
Top 5: Japan leads 7-2
More runs for Japan this inning? I wouldn’t bet against it. Flavio replaces Cruz on the mound to start the fifth.
Hirano, who homered last time up, singles to center to start the fifth inning.
Hidaka reaches first on an infield single to shortstop. They rule it an error on J. Gonzalez and Japan is again in business.
Irie grounds into a fielder’s choice. He’s out at first, but both runners advance on the play.
Motegi grounds out to the pitcher and the runners have to stay put. Flavio is an out away from escaping this jam.
Osaka hits a three-run home run to center field and Japan now leads 10-2!
That should be the dagger as it would take an improbable comeback for Panama to stay alive.
After the homer, Flavio is replaced by Fernandez on the mound.
Oshima grounds out and the inning is over, but Japan tacks on three more runs. Will that be enough? It certainly looks that way.
Bottom 4: Japan leads 7-2
If Panama can’t score this inning, this game could easily be over. They need the bottom of the order to come through here against Ishida.
Sanchez grounds out to third base to start the bottom half of the fourth inning.
Ishida has really settled into a grove, which could mean trouble for the Panama bats.
Flavio strikes out for the second out of the inning. That’s Ishida’s fifth strikeout on the day.
Goff strikes out to end the inning. Six strikeouts for Ishida and Japan has a 7-2 lead through four innings.
Top 4: Japan leads 5-2
Japan has scored in each of the first three innings today. Can they keep up their hot hitting and add to their lead?
Motegi is up to start the fourth and takes three straight balls.
Panama replaces James Gonzalez with Daniel Cruz after throwing 60 pitches.
Cruz works the count full, but Motegi walks.
Motegi advances to second on a wild pitch with Osaka at the plate. Motegi then takes third as the next pitch goes through the catcher’s wickets.
Motegi scores on an RBI groundout by Osaka. Japan now leads 6-2.
Oshima grounds out to first base for the second out of the inning.
Kiyomiya crushes his second home run of the game and Japan has a commanding 7-2 lead.
In all honesty, Kiyomiya shouldn’t see another pitch to hit today or tomorrow, should Japan win. He has way too much power to take a chance on.
Ishizuka walks on four pitches.
Cruz is really struggling out on the mound
Ishida fouls out to first base on a nice catch by E. Gonzalez. That ends the inning, but Japan adds two more runs and now has a five-run lead over Panama.
Bottom 3: Japan leads 5-2
Will this be Panama’s big inning? It has to come eventually if they’re going to take down Japan. Ishida is back on the mound with 48 pitches.
Cruz strikes out on a breaking ball, the fourth strikeout of the day for Ishida.
E. Gonzalez grounds out to shortstop for the second out of the frame.
J. Gonzalez flies out to center and it’s a 1-2-3 inning for Ishida on the mound.
Top 3: Japan leads 4-2
James Gonzalez is still on the mound with 41 pitches. He needs to shut Japan down this inning.
Ishida strikes out on a breaking ball to start the inning.
Hirano hits a solo shot to right field and Japan is up 5-2!
James Gonzalez hasn’t been bad, but he’s having a hard time keeping the ball in the ballpark. That’s the third home run today he’s allowed.
Kagami strikes out for the second out of the inning.
Irie grounds out to the Gonzalez on the mound for the third and final out.
Gonzalez was good that inning except for the home run. Through two and a half innings, Japan leads 5-2.
Bottom 2: Japan leads 4-1
Panama needs to get some of those runs back unless this one could be over before we know it. Japan’s offense definitely isn’t to let up, that’s for sure.
Ishida is back on the mound for Japan despite a shaky first inning.
Agrazal is now up. He hits a line drive right to second base for the first out of the inning.
Velis strikes out looking on an outside fastball. Two quick outs for Ishida on the mound.
Game is being delayed due to a lack of rosin. No, I’m not kidding.
Victoria singles to center. Let’s see if Panama can put together a two-out rally.
Castro pinch hits for Fernandez, who is the special pinch runner at first.
Castro hits an RBI double to left-center field, scoring Fernandez.
Nieto strikes out on a breaking ball to end the inning.
Ishida didn’t look great that inning, or even in the first inning, which could mean trouble for Japan. In the meantime, we head to the third inning with Japan up 4-2.
Top 2: Japan leads 2-1
Gonzalez back on the mound for Panama after allowing two runs in the first. Panama makes a few defensive changes.
Takahashi reaches on an error by the second baseman.
Irie now reaches on a ball back to Gonzalez. It hit off of his glove and then he couldn’t pick it up off of the ground. They rule it an error and Japan is back in business.
Motegi grounds into a fielder’s choice. Men on the corners and one out for Japan.
Osaka hits a ball into no man’s land in the infield and Japan has bases loaded for Oshima.
Miyashita pinch hits for Oshima.
Takahashi scores on a wild pitch. Men on second and third with just one out.
Miyashita grounds out to third base, but Motegi hustles home to give Japan a 4-1 lead.
Kiyomiya will be intentionally walked, and for good reason.
Two on a two out for Aoyama, who homered in his last at-bat.
Aoyama strikes out to end the inning, but Japan scores two more runs.
Bottom 1: Japan leads 2-0
Japan takes the field after a great top of the first. Ishida will look to keep the Panama bats quiet.
Nieto starts the bottom half of the frame with a shallow fly ball to right for a single.
Let’s see if Panama can get something going.
Cruz gets hit in the back and Panama has two men on and no one out.
It seems as if Ishida is struggling with his command early in this one.
E. Gonzalez hits a hard line drive single to left that brings in Nieto for Panama’s first run of the game.
That was the first earned run for Japan all tournament long. Mound visit for Japan.
J. Gonzalez comes up with two men on and still no outs. Gonzalez pulls a bunt back and Cruz gets picked off of second base by Irie.
J. Gonzalez fouls out to first and there are two away. E. Gonzalez is still on first base.
Sanchez in a battle at the plate against Ishida, but he loses is on a nasty breaking ball for a called strike three.
Panama had the opportunity to tie the game, but that pick off play really hurt them. They enter the second inning down a run.
Osaka grounds out to shortstop for the first out of the inning.
Oshima strikes out looking and it’s a quick two outs for Gonzalez on the mound.
Kiyomiya crushes a ball to deep right field for a solo home run and Japan leads 1-0!
Aoyama hits a home run and Japan goes back-to-back! Japan now up 2-0!
Ishida up trying to make it three in a row doubles down the left field line for a double.
Gonzalez started off great, but decided to pitch to Kiyomiya and that hurt him big time.
Ishida takes third on a wild pitch.
Gonzalez gets Osada to ground out and the top of the first inning is over.
Japan strikes for two. Let’s see if Panama can respond.
First pitch from James Gonzalez and we’re underway from Williamsport!
Here is the starting lineup from the Latin American champions:
James Gonzalez has pitched twice in Williamsport, once recently against Japan and also against Uganda earlier in the tournament. He’s only allowed one earned run in five innings of work while striking out eight. He pitched well against Japan, but Panama ended up losing 4-1.
Here is the starting lineup for the Japanese champions:
Yuta Ishida has only pitched once in Williamsport, but it was arguably the best game of the 2012 Little League World Series. He threw six shutout innings against Chinese Taipei, allowing three hits and striking out 11 in a 2-0 extra-inning victory.
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