The 2014 Little League World Series has been among the most exciting in recent memory, and it now all comes down to four teams battling to prove that they are the best in the world.
There has been plenty of intrigue on the U.S. side of the bracket, due largely to the emergence of Mo'ne Davis for Philadelphia. While Davis' team has been eliminated, Nevada and Illinois will undoubtedly put on a great show in the U.S. Final.
One very familiar team is still alive in the International competition, with Japan looking to win yet another title. In order to do so, however, it will have to defeat an extremely talented South Korean squad.
With a spot in the Little League World Series Championship Game on the line, here is everything you need to know about the U.S. and International finals.
|Little League World Series Schedule|
|Date||Time (ET)||Game||Team 1||Team 2||TV|
|Saturday, Aug. 23||12:30 p.m.||International Championship||South Korea||Japan||ABC|
|Saturday, Aug. 23||3:30 p.m.||U.S. Championship||Nevada||Illinois||ABC|
U.S. Final: Nevada vs. Illinois
The United States final will feature a rematch between two teams that locked horns less than a week ago as Las Vegas, Nevada and Chicago, Illinois will compete for U.S. supremacy.
There is no doubt that Nevada enters the game as the substantial favorite. The West representative has yet to lose a game in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and it has outscored its opponents by a 33-5 margin over three games.
That included a 13-2 thrashing of Illinois. That scrappy Illinois team is 4-1—its only loss coming at the hands of Saturday's opponent, according to ESPN Stats & Info:
Even though Nevada was dominant in their previous meeting, Illinois coach Darrell Butler is excited about the opportunity to get another shot at the only team to have beaten them, per Melissa Isaacson of ESPNChicago.com.
"I know it's hard to beat a team twice," Butler said. "But these guys here are so competitive, they want the shot. We're blessed to have a chance to play them again. I can't see that game end exactly like it did the first time. We're going to be ready, we're going to prepare, we're looking forward to it."
Illinois certainly has a shot based on its clutch play in this tournament, but no team has come close to challenging Nevada thus far.
Austin Kryszczuk and Zach Hare have led the way for Nevada's explosive offense, and they will prove to be too much for Illinois to handle.
Neither Nevada nor Illinois has ever won the Little League World Series, but look for Nevada to put itself in position to do so with a 9-5 win over a game Illinois squad.
International Final: South Korea vs. Japan
Most American baseball fans will be fixated on the U.S. Final, but there is still a great deal of buzz surrounding the International final between South Korea and Japan.
Japan has been the dominant team in the Little League World Series in recent years. It has won two consecutive titles and made the championship game in each of the past four years. With nine all-time titles to its credit, Japan has more than any team other than Taiwan.
Japan is almost always favored, but that is not the case this year. After a 29-year hiatus from the Little League World Series, South Korea is back and better than ever.
South Korea won the LLWS in both of 1984 and 1985. As it turns out, those were its only two previous appearances. South Korea is undefeated this year in Williamsport, and it has never lost a Little League World Series game for that matter, according to ESPN Stats & Info:
The Koreans even have a victory over Japan this year—they prevailed 4-2 on Wednesday. Japan is coming off a 12-1 thrashing of Mexico to get to this point, but it hasn't been as dominant as South Korea overall.
South Korea came through late in the game by breaking a tie with two runs in the sixth inning. Winning in that fashion over an elite team has to have inspired confidence, and that will vault South Korea to a 6-5 win Saturday.
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