The top four places of the Little League World Series were decided on the final day, as Japan came away champions on Sunday in South Williamsport, Pa.
After an impressive run through the international bracket, Japan capped its title with a 6-4 win over Chula Vista, Calif., the United States' representative.
This result came after a dramatic consolation game to decide the third-place team in the tournament. In a back-and-forth battle, Mexico came away with a 15-14 victory over Westport, Conn.
The young players on all four teams competing Sunday put together fantastic efforts throughout the tournament and were well-represented on the last day of action. Here is a recap of the two biggest games of the 2013 Little League World Series.
Neither Japan nor California had lost in the tournament entering the championship, so something had to give.
Chula Vista got the opening run on a passed ball in the first inning, which was followed by an RBI single by pitcher Grant Holman to go up 2-0. However, Japan came right back with a few singles and benefited from a timely error to make it 2-2.
Grantland's Shane Ryan was certainly enjoying things:
Man, already a classic between Cal and Japan for LLWS title. 2-2 in first, Cal ace getting hit around by Japan.— Shane Ryan (@ShaneRyanHere) August 25, 2013
The scored remained 2-2 until Japan's Shunpei Takagi put his side ahead with a homer:
This deficit is certainly something that California had not dealt with very much during the tournament, especially due to Holman's great play:
Grant Holman is a 6-foot-4,13-year-old on Chula Vista, CA. In LLWS, he has a no-hitter, grand slam & 3-run HR. Quite a run, young fella. .— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 22, 2013
However, the American club showed its resolve with a two-run fourth inning to once again regain the lead. Unfortunately, the bullpen unraveled in the fifth.
A second homer by Takagi tied the game up:
DRAMA at Williamsport. Japan gets a home run to tie the game w/ California in bottom 5th. U.S. teams have won 6 of last 8 #LLWS titles.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 25, 2013
The U.S. winning streak did not seem to matter to Japan, which took the lead thanks to a two-run double from Tatsuki Nagano in the same inning.
In the top of the inning, Japan held on thanks to some great defense:
Oh my! A double play to end the LLWS! Japan 6, California 4. Japan is the champs of the world! #LLWS— LittleLeagueWS (@LLWSallthetime) August 25, 2013
SportsCenter provided this stat to showcase the country's run of success in this event:
Japan wins the Little League World Series, beating California, 6-4. Japan has won 3 of last 4 #LLWS and 9 all-time.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 25, 2013
The same account also captured this moment of celebration from the winners:
Although Chula Vista came up just short, even getting to the championship game is quite the accomplishment. After all, how often do little league games get worldwide attention?
Connecticut vs. Mexico
This game was an absolute slugfest between two of the best lineups in the entire tournament. The first home run was hit before three batters even took the plate. Connecticut's Chad Knight—who has been the hero for the New England club throughout the championship—hit a two-run shot to give his side the early lead.
The next few innings featured more scoring, with Westport gaining a 5-1 lead halfway through the second inning. However, Mexico came back quickly and took an 11-6 advantage after the fourth inning:
Of course, we had just seen Connecticut post a huge comeback two days ago:
WHAT A FINISH! Connecticut comes back from down 7 runs to beat Washington 14-13 in extras. CT advances to US Championship. #LLWS— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 23, 2013
And wouldn't you know it, this team was able to do it again with a five-run fifth inning:
This score did not stand for long, though, as Mexico scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth. Connecticut continued to battle in its final at-bats, scoring three runs to make it 15-14. However, it could not get over the hump, and the international team came away with the win.
The game finished with 29 total runs, 32 hits and six errors. The five errors for Connecticut were a big reason it was unable to come away with a win, although the hitting was still quite impressive.
While Mexico earned the win, both teams showcased how loaded they were offensively.
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