Little League World Series 2013: Ranking Top International Teams in Tournament
The Little League World Series has developed into a massive gathering of teams from around the globe in pursuit of baseball glory. It's a summer classic a few months before their counterparts at the major league level take the spotlight during the Fall Classic.
This year, the tournament features a strong group of international contenders. The overall parity is what makes the tournament so popular. It's always interesting to see which players will embrace the spotlight and carry their teams deep in the event.
With that in mind, let's take a closer look at three international teams capable of making a run all the way to the Little League World Series championship. For more information about the tournament, check out the official site.
1. Japan (Musashi Fuchu LL)
The fact Japan receives top billing shouldn't come as a surprise. The country has won eight titles in the event, the second-most for international teams behind Taiwan. It seems to put together a strong contender year in and year out.
It sure doesn't seem like 2013 will be any different. The squad from Musashi Fuchu made easy work of the country's regional tournament. It won all four games by a combined score of 36-15, scoring at least six runs in every contest.
The team is able to put constant pressure on opposing pitching staffs. That's important in a tournament where pitchers are limited. So expect Japan to wear down a lot of teams before finishing them off in the later innings.
2. Mexico (Municipal De Tijuana LL)
Mexico is another team with plenty of pop. The Municipal De Tijuana group scored at least 10 runs in five of its six regional contests, including a 19-run outburst against Saltillo. The only time it didn't score in double digits resulted in a loss.
The World Series atmosphere certainly didn't cool off the team's bats. In their opener against Australia, the Mexicans racked up 12 runs in just three innings. Brandon Montes led the way with a home run and three runs batted in.
Only time will tell if Mexico continues to dominate at the dish as the level of competition increases, but it's off to a tremendous start. While the pitching staff gets lost in the shuffle, it will probably end up being the key to winning it all, because the team can clearly score.
Which team will win the international bracket?
3. Latin America (Aguadulce Cabezera LL)
The Latin America team from Aguadulce Cabezera in Panama gets the slight nod over the Asia-Pacific representative from Chinese Taipei. The main reason is the difficult regional it was forced to survive just to reach this point.
Panama defeated teams from Venezuela, Ecuador and Colombia, among other nations, just to earn the right to earn the Latin America bid. Going undefeated in a group like that is enough to grab the attention of other teams in the tournament.
Like Mexico, Panama's tournament journey is already underway. It cruised past Puerto Rico, the Caribbean club, by a 9-4 score. Daniel Fernandez and Juan Crisp both homered to help pace the offense and help establish the team as a contender.
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