Sunday will mark the end of the 2014 Little League World Series, but not before a pair of thrilling matchups on Day 10 to close out the tournament.
Twists and turns have been the norm in a tournament that has featured so many comeback wins. There is a chance for more unpredictability Sunday, with everything up for grabs.
Let's break down the complete Day 10 schedule and preview each game.
|Date, Time (ET)||Game||Matchup||TV|
|Aug. 24 at 10 a.m.||3rd-Place Game||Nevada vs. Japan||ESPN|
|Aug. 24 at 3 p.m.||World Championship||Illinois vs. South Korea||ABC|
Day 10 Preview
3rd-Place Game: Nevada vs. Japan
The championship aspirations of both Nevada and Japan ended after tough defeats Saturday, but the two sides will do battle for a podium spot to open up Day 10.
Although it won't decide any title, this matchup truly has all the makings of a championship affair.
Before Saturday, Nevada was easily the most impressive team in the tournament, winning most of its games by huge margins and blowing the top off opponents with a power-hitting lineup. The team won its first two games by a combined 21 runs, with neither game going the full six innings.
Meanwhile, Japan brings the historical appeal. The Japanese won the entire tournament a year ago, a win that actually came against the same West regional that Nevada hails from. That same success hasn't been found this year, though, as the team won its first two games in tight affairs before losing twice to South Korea—the last one coming in a 12-3 drubbing.
Not long ago, Nevada and Japan looked to be on a collision course for Sunday's championship game. They'll still meet on the final day of the tournament, but under quite different circumstances.
In a consolation game, especially one between two previous title favorites, it's simply about who wants it more. Nevada boasts the superior talent but suffered a much more heartbreaking loss Saturday. Meanwhile, Japan's players will be hungry to wash the taste of the defeat to South Korea out of their mouths.
Prediction: Japan wins, 8-5
Championship: Illinois vs. South Korea
It's the Cinderella story versus the team that just refuses to lose a game in Williamsport. Illinois and South Korea will meet Sunday to decide who will be crowned 2014 Little League World Series champions.
Jackie Robinson West, a team from the south side of Chicago, Illinois, made waves just by winning the Great Lakes regional and battled through an early loss to win a number of elimination contests. Its biggest moment yet came Saturday, when a three-run rally in the bottom of the fifth was the difference in an upset over then-undefeated Nevada.
SportsCenter captured the moment:
Not only is Illinois not supposed to be here, as it made the final by going through the toughest road possible, but it's just the manner in which the team has won. It came from behind to beat Mo'ne Davis and Pennsylvania in an elimination game, and it astonishingly beat a Nevada team that it had lost to 13-2 in four short innings early in the tourney.
It will be easier said than done to keep that up for six more innings when the international champion comes knocking.
South Korea, winners of the Asia-Pacific regional, rattled off three early wins, one against Japan, to advance to the international championship. Once it got there, it disposed of Japan again, defeating the defending champions 12-3.
ESPN Stats & Info noted South Korea's dominance at Williamsport:
South Korea now 10-0 all-time in LLWS play after 12-3 win over Japan. That's the 4th-largest win by any team over Japan in LLWS (all-time)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 23, 2014
Illinois holds the hopes of America's first LLWS title since California did it in 2011, and the team has every "it" factor you look for in a champion—a strong lineup, a deep arsenal of pitchers and an undying hatred for losing.
South Korea has proved its ability just by strolling through international play, but Jackie Robinson West has already topped its most dangerous opponent in Williamsport. That was Nevada, and the momentum built from that late comeback will be enough to top a South Korean team that has had things a bit too easy as of late.
Prediction: Illinois wins, 5-3