The 2010 Little League World Series nears its penultimate weekend with the champion to be crowned this Sunday. But first, the pool play on the United States side must be resolved.
With two games taking today to decide Pool A and Pool B, we are drawing closer to finding out who will first play for the U.S. Championship and then play for all the marbles in Sunday's overall championship game.
The international competition has been stiff, but there are 10 reasons to believe the United States is the favorite to bring home the big prize this Sunday.
Chinese Taipei and Panama have so far rolled through the tournament and will meet for the International Championship, but their roads have not been as tough. Chinese Taipei ran through weaker teams in Canada and Saudi Arabia like a hot knife through butter. Ditto Panama. The international pool simply has not stacked up in terms of pitching and offense.
Unlike the international side of the bracket, the U.S. side has featured very close games between the teams looking to advance to the U.S. Championship, especially in Pool A where Georgia and Hawaii meet for the second time to determine who moves on.
Sure, the players are different but little leaguers from Columbus, Georgia know a thing or two about winning at the Little League World Series. It was Columbus, Georgia that produced the 2006 Little League World Series champion.
Do current 16-year-olds come back and talk to the younger guys? Who knows, but having that name on the front of the jersey has to at least give the team a jolt.
Japan has always been a team to watch out for when it comes to winnig the LLWS title, having last won in 2003. However, this year, Japan isn't the traditional run-producing team the tournament has been accustomed to. Fourteen runs over three games in pool play, including two games decided by two runs or less, is far from run-scoring expected.
Perhaps like the American League in the MLB All-Star Game, the United States teams will simply keep their recent run of success going. U.S. teams have won the last five LLWS titles.
Can an international team take the role of the National League and play spoiler?
Like Georgia in 2006, Hawaii is a recent title winner having won it all in 2008. That alone makes the Pool A final between Hawaii and Georgia that much more compelling. The Hawaii team does not hail from the same town as the 2008 title team like the Columbus, GA squad, but these are players who have seen kids from their home states or towns hoist the championship banner.