The Little League World Series Championship Game will soon be underway, as Japan faces Hawaii in today’s finale.
Stay tuned to Bleacher Report during the game for real-time reaction to the final as we begin breaking down the action inning-by-inning.
The 2010 LLWS Championship is slated to begin at 3 p.m. EST on ABC; check back soon for today’s starting pitchers and lineups as we prepare for the first pitch…
Cody Maltezo, Hawaii
Ryusuke Ikeda, Japan
Tokyo, Japan Starting Lineup:
G. Maruoka, 3B
R. Norimatsu, SS
I. Ogasawara, CF
M. Ishii, LF
K. Shinozaki, C
N. Mizumachi, RF
R. Motegi, 1B
R. Ikeda, P
K. Kamikura, 2B
Waipahu, Hawaii Starting Lineup:
K. Akau, 2B
T. DeSa, 1B
S. Baniaga, LF
K. Bartolome, RF
N. Shackles, 3B
E. Heleski, CF
J. Nakagawa, SS
K. Ramos, C
C. Maltezo, P
First Inning Analysis: Japan 0, Hawaii 0
Hawaii starting pitcher Cody Maltezo had a solid first inning on the mound, tossing a 1-2-3 frame with one strikeout against Japan.
Japan starting pitcher Ryusuke Ikeda, meanwhile, ran into first-inning trouble as Hawaii put runners on first and second base with just one out before back-to-back strikeouts kept the game scoreless heading into the top of the second inning.
Despite the hit batter and single by Hawaii, Japan’s Ikeda had three strikeouts in the bottom of the first to keep the game deadlocked.
Second Inning Analysis: Japan 1, Hawaii 0
Maltezo began the top of the second inning by allowing a walk before Shinozaki drilled a base hit single to put runners on the corner with no one out.
Japan then took a 1-0 lead on a wild pitch as Shinozaki advanced to second; shortly thereafter, Matezo pitched his way back to a full-count and eventual strikeout (on a wild pitch) against Mizumachi to put a runner on third base with just one out.
A ground ball to third kept the runner stranded to give Hawaii two outs with Ikeda at the plate for Japan—who was rung up on a called third strike to keep the game close at 1-0 heading into the bottom of the second inning.
Hawaii began the bottom of the frame with a groundout to the pitcher before Nakagawa struck out to bring up pinch-hitter D. Kaneshiro, who grounded out to second base to give Japan a 1-0 lead through two innings of play.
Third Inning Analysis: Japan 1, Hawaii 0
Japan began the top of the third inning grounding out on the first pitch of the frame before Saito popped up to the first baseman for two quick outs.
Norimatsu followed with a ground ball up the middle for another 1-2-3 inning for Hawaii’s Maltezo.
Maltezo then worked a full count to begin the bottom of the third inning, striking out swinging for the first out.
Akau followed with a base-hit single to bring Hawaii first baseman DeSa to the plate, who grounded into a force out at second base.
Baniaga followed with an inning-ending popup to the shortstop to keep the score at 1-0 favoring Japan heading into the fourth inning.
Fourth Inning Analysis: Japan 2, Hawaii 1
Japan’s Ogasawara drilled a deep double off the glove of Hawaii center fielder Kushima to begin the top of the fourth inning before a first out strikeout.
Shinozaki followed with four pitch walk to put runners on first and second base with one out, bringing up Japan’s Mizumachi—who worked a 2-1 wild pitch to advance runners to second and third before grounding out for two outs.
K. Tomori then drilled an RBI single to center field to give Japan a 2-0 lead with Ikeda coming to the plate, who grounded out to the second baseman for the final out of the top of the fourth inning.
Hawaii pinch hitter B. Yoshii began the bottom of the fourth with a base hit single, bringing up Shackles—who drilled a 2-2 base hit to right field to put runners on first and second base with no outs, leading to Japan calling on relief pitcher Ogasawara from the outfield.
Left-handed pinch hitter E. Heleski followed with a beautiful bunt that led to a throwing error by the pitcher, with one run scoring and putting runners on the corners with nobody out.
After a brief mound meeting for Japan, Hawaii’s M. Campos struck out for the first out of the inning; Ramos followed with a strikeout on a called strike three with runners on second and third base.
Hawaii starting pitcher Maltezo then came to the plate for his second at-bat, who grounded out up the middle to end the early threat as Japan took a 2-1 lead heading into the fifth inning.
Fifth Inning Analysis: Japan 2, Hawaii 1
Japan began the top of the fifth by beating out a bunt single, leading to R. Sugawara throwing down a bunt that led to a force out at second base for the first out of the inning.
Maltezo then forced a fly out to right field for the second out of the frame before a pop up to center field kept Hawaii in the hunt heading into the bottom of the fifth inning and down just a run, 2-1.
Hawaii began the bottom of the fifth with a line-drive to center field that was caught for the first out of the frame, leading to DeSa grounding out on a ball drilled up the middle for the second out of the inning.
Baniaga, the No. 3 hitter for Hawaii, then hit a tough ball to the pitcher—who tossed the ball to first base for the final out of the fifth inning, with Japan taking a one run lead into the sixth inning.
Sixth Inning Analysis: Japan 4, Hawaii 1
Maltezo, at 79 of the maximum-allowed 85 pitches (allowed to finish pitching the at-bat) on the first out of the inning, has pitched a remarkable game for Hawaii.
And with just six more pitches until he had to be replaced on the mound, Maltezo walked Shinozaki on a 3-1 pitch—giving the Hawaii starting pitcher just one more batter to face before having to be pulled from the game.
A fly out to left field gave Hawaii the second out of the frame, forcing the exit of Maltezo as the pitcher—who walked off the hill to a standing ovation and stayed in the game for the team as an outfielder.
Relief pitcher Ramos then entered the game for Hawaii, only to give up a two-run home run on a 0-2 count to Tomori that easily cleared the right field fence and gave Japan a 4-1 lead with two outs.
Ramos then struck out Ikeda to end the top of the sixth inning, leading to Hawaii’s final chance at the plate in the bottom of the frame and down by three runs.
Bartolome led things off for Hawaii in the bottom of the sixth, grounding out up the middle for the first out of the frame; Shackles followed with a ground ball to third base that led to an error to give Hawaii a runner on first with just one out.
Pinch hitter T. Kushima then came to the plate and struck out on a called strike three before Campos popped out to the right fielder to end the game.
And the boys from Tokyo, Japan are the 2010 Little League World Series Champions.
Stay tuned later this evening for an in-depth breakdown of this afternoon LLWS title matchup…
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at email@example.com