Little League World Series 2013: Japan Proves Greatness with Thrilling Win
The boys from California had every opportunity to put Japan away in the 2013 Little League World Series title game, but the talented youngsters from Tokyo would not accept a defeat.
Japan completed its title defense with an undefeated run through the tournament that culminated with a 6-4 win over California on Sunday.
It was a well-earned win.
For starters, Japan was facing tournament star Grant Holman. Holman had not only been doing damage with his bat, but he already had a no-hitter under his belt for the tournament. He was on the rubber for this game.
Japan was patient at the plate and made Holman work. With an 85-pitch limit, Holman had thrown 50 pitches after just two innings, and he lasted just three innings.
Still, on the strength of a two-run single by Giancarlo Cortez in the top of the fourth, California (Chula Vista) took a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the fifth.
However, that is when Shunpei Takagi hit a solo home run to tie the game and Ryusei Hirooka lined a double to plate the go-ahead and eventual winning run.
The clutch hitting to orchestrate the comeback was not the only sign of the refuse-to-lose attitude of the boys from Tokyo.
Japan's defense continually had its backs against the wall in this game but would not break. In the end, California stranded 12 runners on base. Japan simply made the plays when it needed to. That should be no surprise—the champs did that all tournament.
In the International final against Mexico, Japan broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth en route to a 3-2 win. Takuma Gomi was the hero in that game, as it was his solo home run that broke the tie.
That came directly after Japan scored three unanswered runs over the final three innings to knock Mexico from the ranks of the undefeated with a 5-2 win.
These weren't the only close shaves for this squad either. Japan advanced past Asia-Pacific in its opener with a 3-2 win.
This team faced a mountain of adversity and pressure in this tournament, and it advanced through it all in unblemished fashion. This was a thorough and hard-fought championship for Japan.
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