Both Panama and California saw their Little League championship dreams end Aug. 26, but both teams need to forget about that for now and focus on finishing this tournament with a consolation victory.
The kids from Panama just couldn't break open the Japanese pitching game during the six-inning affair, with Japan winning the International Championship by a score of 10-2.
After the game, Panama manager Luis Gonzalez told Samantha Ciccocioppo of LittleLeague.org that the "'Japanese pitching is the best in the tournament. Japan is going to be World Series champion this year.'"
The 10 runs Japan scored was also impressive, proving to be a sign of things to come in the United States championship.
The West champions from California and Southeast champs Tennessee would score a tournament-high 40 runs combined, with Tennessee earning the victory by a score of 24-16.
Based on the scores, California has to head into this consolation game with the most confidence. While a loss is a loss either way you cut it, knowing your team came back from being 10 runs down in the sixth inning has to make manager Eric Smith feel good heading into the next game.
After the game concluded, Smith spoke with Jim Seip of the San Francisco Chronicle, explaining that "'the teams [California] lost to are Tennessee, and Tennessee.'" Only one team has defeated Smith's team this Little League World Series and he'll look to keep it that way Aug. 26.
The West champs' score against Tennessee was eight times what Panama produced against Japan, and don't think the Latin America champs haven't heard the news about their opponent's high-scoring affair.
In the two games before California made it to the U.S. championship game, the team had 16 runs in its last two contests. Now Smith's squad has scored 32 runs over the past three games.
Panama has now lost two of its past three contests in Williamsport, PA, both to Japan and narrowly defeating Mexico by a score of 2-1 to reach the International Championship game.
Based on the firepower that the Californians have put together in recent contests and the power outage from Panama, momentum favors the U.S. championship runner-ups in this one.
Prediction: California 7, Panama 3