The 2012 Little League World Series was full of surprises, comebacks and impact performers. In one of the most entertaining baseball games at any level, Tennessee defeated California 24-16 in the US title game on Saturday after giving up a 10 run lead with three outs to play. They went on to score nine runs in the seventh to break the game open and move on to the championship.
The powerful Tennesse offense couldn't carry their success into the finals though, and lost to Japan 12-2 on Sunday.
The tournament had its share of kids stepping up to play a huge role with the spotlight on them. Here are the most impressive performances by players in the tourney.
Noriatsu Osaka, Japan
Osaka came up huge in the finals, going 4-4, hitting three home runs and a triple while driving in four. His offense alone was enough for Japan to take the crown, and he had multi-hit games in four of the five contests he played in.
He also showed his talents on the mound, giving up just one run in nine innings during the Little League World Series while striking out 17 batters.
Lorenzo Butler, Tennessee
The story of the Tennesse-California semifinal, Lorenzo Butler, was almost derailed when California came storming back from a ten-run deficit to tie the game up at 15 in the sixth. Once Tennessee regained their composure and took control the game, it was all about Butler again.
The 12-year-old slugged three home runs and drove in nine during the game, a new LLWS record. His performance was so impressive, he became a trending topic on twitter Saturday. It's safe to say that without Butler's record-breaking performance, California may have been playing opposite Japan Sunday instead of Tennessee.
Kotaro Kiyomiya, Japan
The biggest impact performer of them all was 13-year-old Kotaro Kiyomiya of Japan. He started two games in the LLWS, first against the Caribbean then again in the finals against Tennessee. Kiyomiya pitched a total of 6.2 innings, giving up one hit—a solo home run—and walking two. He struck out 15 in the process and took home the win in both matchups.
In addition to his lights out pitching, Kiyomiya helped out at the plate in a big way. He finished the LLWS going 8-12 with three home runs and five walks. He stepped up when the spotlight was on him, and led Japan to the Little League title.