Little League World Series 2013: Recapping Top Moments from Japan's Championship
Japan’s second consecutive Little League World Series title run wasn’t highlighted by big and flashy scores, but the Musashi Fuchu Little League team from Tokyo played solid throughout to become champions.
The win is the ninth for the country in LLWS history and the 34th Championship for international teams since the 1946 berth of the competition. Mexico was the first team outside of the U.S. to capture the title in 1957.
There were plenty of memorable moments for Japan in 2013. That’s especially true given the close nature of each of their matchups. And in close games, it’s defense that reigns supreme.
Their near-perfect performance in the field was certainly a huge contributor to their triumph. In five games in South Williamsport, Pa., Japan committed just seven errors.
Some of their pivotal moments came on offense, though.
Kazuki Ishida Breaks Tie in International Championship Semifinal
Facing also-unbeaten Mexico—a team that had dominated opponents through its first two games with a 25-0 run differential—was a daunting task for Japan. As the two teams played to a near stalemate into the bottom of the fifth, Kazuki Ishida rose to the occasion. The all-around star belted a homer to put his team ahead 3-2.
In the end, Japan would win 5-2, but it was Ishida’s homer that broke the tie and put the pressure back on Mexico. His home run handed Mexico its first deficit of the tournament and ended up making the a big difference.
Holding on to Top Rival Chinese Taipei
Japan carried a three-run lead heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. That was thanks to a two-run homer by Takuma Gomi during the upper-half of the inning.
Those two insurance runs turned out to be the deciding factor in the ballgame. Chinese Taipei made a late comeback bid in its final at-bat. After four dominant innings on the mound from Ishida, Japan coughed up two runs and allowed the game-tying run to reach base.
With a runner on first, Tokyo pitcher Kyousuke Kobayashi forced Chen-Hsun Lee to fly out to center field to end the game. It was a huge win to keep Japan’s momentum rolling early on in the action.
Ryusei Hirooka’s 2-run Double in World Series Championship Game
In the bottom of the fifth, Shunpei Takagi led off the inning with a game-tying homer—his second of the game. Then Japan got the last hit it would need to win the game and championship for the second year in a row.
With runners on second and third base, Japan’s Ryusei Hirooka delivered the biggest hit of the tournament. He drove a 1-1 pitch into left field to score both baserunners and put his team in the lead; a lead they wouldn’t surrender.
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