Japan has had an incredibly impressive run at the 2012 Little League World Series and the team has just one more obstacle in their way as it will face the Southeast representatives from Goodlettsville, Tennessee.
On its way through the international bracket, Japan did not lose a game and only allowed three runs in four games. The pitching has been spectacular in every outing and overshadowed how proficient they were at the plate.
But, the United States champions will have plenty of momentum coming into the game after defeating Petaluma, California in thrilling fashion. The team from Tennessee held a seemingly insurmountable 10 run lead going into the sixth and final inning, but the California kids managed to miraculously tie the game and send it to extra innings.
Tennessee then flexed its offensive muscle one more time and put up nine runs in the top of the seventh to win by an eye-popping score of 24-16.
Now, the American’s potent bats will go against Japan’s big arms. Here are the three keys to victory for Japan.
More Phenomenal Pitching
The performances on the mound have been the root of the team’s success. The greatest test for these young hurlers will come in the biggest baseball game of their lives as they face a team coming off a 24-run performance.
Japan’s pitchers have allowed just two earned runs in four games, and have recorded 50 strikeouts compared to just four walks in 27 innings.
Every player who has stepped up and pitched for the team has been nearly unhittable, and they must continue to play at this level if they want to be known as the best Little League team in the world.
The most intriguing part of this game will be the Japanese pitchers against the talented hitters from Tennessee. Whoever comes out on top in this matchup will be victorious.
Score in the First Inning
In three of Japan’s four games, the team has managed to get on the scoreboard in the first inning.
The Tokyo-based team earned three of its seven runs against the Caribbean in the opening stanza. The Japanese hitters then put up three runs in the first inning of their first matchup with Latin American, then scored two runs when they faced them again in the International Championship game.
The only game in which the team did not score in the first inning was against Asia-Pacific. In that contest, neither team was able to earn a run until Japan scored in the ninth inning to get the win.
The chances of keeping the Tennessee team scoreless for nine innings are slim, and Japan would do well to jump out to an early lead.
Swing for the Fences
Who will win?
The Japanese have been solid, but not incredible at the plate throughout the tournament. Then the team put on a show in its second game against Latin America.
Japan had five home runs and scored 10 times to earn a spot in the World Series championship. This was their best offensive output of the tournament.
Kotaro Kiyomiya really let loose and hit two of the team’s homers. If Japan stays aggressive at the plate and goes for the long ball when the opportunity presents itself, then it will be able to score runs in the same fashion.
There will be an incredible amount of pressure on these young ball players, and letting them take their shots will be a great way to get them to relax. A home run will get the team excited and allow the players to lose themselves in the game.