Four teams will attempt to recover from past losses to stay alive on Day 8 of the Little League World Series.
Wednesday's games saw South Korea earn a bid to the International Championship while Nevada punched its ticket to the United States Championship.
Japan and Pennsylvania will get a chance at redemption, but both must first come back with wins on Day 8. With Mexico and Chicago standing in the way on each side, a win is far from guaranteed.
Here is a look at what to expect for the upcoming set of games in Williamsport.
|Thursday, Aug 21||Mexico vs. Japan||3 p.m.||ESPN|
|Thursday, Aug 21||Illinois vs. Pennsylvania||7:30 p.m.||ESPN|
Full bracket is available, courtesy of LittleLeague.org.
Mexico vs. Japan
Most previews for Wednesday's action featured discussion about Mo'ne Davis, but ESPN's Karl Ravech wanted to point out there was another big game:
Lot of pub for Mo'ne and Vegas at 730 on ESPN but don't sleep on game between Japan and South Korea at 3.. might be 2 best teams in tourney— karl ravech (@karlravechespn) August 20, 2014
The battle between the two Asian teams lived up to the hype, with South Korea narrowly advancing thanks to two runs in the sixth inning. Japan's Takuma Takahashi was outstanding on the mound again with 10 strikeouts, but a Hae Chan Choi two-run home run ruined the pitcher's day.
Tokyo Kitasuna will now have to come back without its ace pitcher. No matter what, it will take a team effort to get into the international championship.
Of course, Takahashi was not pitching when Japan defeated Mexico earlier in the tournament. Joichiro Fujimatsu got the start and helped his side earn a 9-5 win. Now the Mexicans will get a chance for revenge in the consolation bracket.
Guadalupe Linda Vista has been involved in a few close games in this tournament, and the lineup has continually come through when needed.
Luis Rodriguez, Erik Vela, Daniel Quiroz and Ruy Martinez have all had big games, but Juan Garza might have made the biggest impact with his ability on the mound, at the plate and in the field. Michael Martinez of WAMU 88.5 had great things to say about the young player:
I love this kid Garza on Mexico's #LLWS team. He's quick like a cat. Amazing hands. Sad it looks like they're about to lose.— Michael Martinez (@MikeMartinezDC) August 17, 2014
Mexico also has a lot of momentum after an 11-1 mercy-rule win over Venezuela. Japan is one of the more talented clubs in the tournament, but this should be an excellent battle to advance.
Illinois vs. Pennsylvania
With all of the hype for Nevada and Pennsylvania, everyone seemed to forget about the talented group out of Chicago. However, Jackie Robinson West is still one of the best groups at Williamsport.
This is exactly how manager Darold Butler feels heading into his next game, as he explained to Justin Breen of DNAinfo Chicago:
It's a great feeling to be one of the last three teams left. We're not feeling any pressure. The kids are motivated, just trying to be the No. 1 team in the United States. ... Honestly, I think we're the best team here. ...
Even though we lost, it was a wakeup call. Our kids would love to see that team again. We would play much harder. It would be a totally different situation.
The squad lost to Nevada 13-2 earlier in the tournament, but it will have to defeat Pennsylvania in the upcoming game in order to get that chance at redemption.
Pierce Jones was the team's leader in the opening win over Washington with a performance that even got the attention of major league players like David Price:
Pierce Jones is fun to watch!! 4-4 with 3 HRs and a triple!! Have a day young man #llws— David Price (@DAVIDprice14) August 15, 2014
However, Trey Hondras, Joshua Houston and others have stepped up throughout the week to help lead a high-powered lineup.
The question will be if they can contain the Taney Dragons, which suffered their first loss at the hands of Mountain Ridge in their last game.
Everyone was excited to watch Davis pitch for the second time at the Little League World Series, especially after she graced the cover of Sports Illustrated:
Unfortunately, she allowed a few runs early and the lineup could not make up the difference as the team was knocked out of the winner's bracket.
With Davis unable to pitch in this game, it will be up to the offense to help Taney get back in the win column. Jared Sprague-Lott and Zion Spearman have performed well to this point, but they need to keep hitting to keep up with Jackie Robinson West.
Otherwise, the Pennsylvania team will be taking the short trip home earlier than expected.
All statistics and info courtesy of LLBWS.org unless otherwise specified.
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