The entire slate of opening-round games in the 2015 Little League World Series gets underway Friday at 10 a.m. ET.
After rain postponed play Thursday, all 16 teams from the United States division and the international group will play. Despite all of the distance and differences in culture, the teams in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, share the common bond created by baseball.
The fellowship between kids from different cultures is still the best thing about the LLWS. J.K. Kolmansberger, the head coach of Red Land Little League from Pennsylvania, talked about some of the experiences he and his players have had already, per John Beauge of PennLive.com: "They're like kids on Christmas morning. They are sharing bathroom facilities with the team from Tokyo, Japan, and they already are forming friendships."
The friendly competition will be kicked up a notch soon. Here's a look at the schedule and television info, per LLBWS.org. All of the games can be seen on ESPN and will be live streamed on Watch ESPN.
|Friday, August 21 - Opening-Round Games||Prediction|
|Game 1 - 10 a.m. ET - Volunteer|
|Europe-Africa (Uganda) vs. Caribbean (Dominican Republic)||Caribbean|
|Game 2 - 11 a.m. ET - Lamade|
|Southwest (Texas) vs. Northwest (Oregon)||Southwest|
|Game 3 - 1 p.m. ET - Volunteer|
|Latin America (Venezuela) vs. Australia (Sydney)||Latin America|
|Game 4 - 2 p.m. ET - Lamade|
|Great Lakes (Kentucky) vs. West (California)||West|
|Game 5 - 4 p.m. ET - Volunteer|
|Canada (British Columbia) vs. Mexico (Baja California)||Mexico|
|Game 6 - 5 p.m. ET - Lamade|
|Southeast (South Carolina) vs. New England (Rhode Island)||New England|
|Game 7 - 7 p.m. ET - Volunteer|
|Asia-Pacific (Chinese Taipei) vs. Japan (Tokyo Kitasuna)||Japan|
|Game 8 - 8 p.m. ET - Lamade|
|Mid-Atlantic (Pennsylvania) vs. Midwest (Missouri)||Mid-Atlantic|
United States Bracket
You have to like the team representing the Mid-Atlantic region. Red Land has been dominant on its path to Williamsport, outscoring opponents 36-5 thus far.
Red Land has contributors in every facet of the game. Lefty Cole Wagner shut down Jackson Township (New Jersey) in the regional title game August 15, allowing no runs and striking out eight over as many innings in the 12-0 rout. Most impressively, he didn't walk a batter. On this level, throwing strikes consistently is huge.
Chayton Krauss helped to power the offense with a two-run home run, but that was just a piece of the explosive offense. This team appears to have few weaknesses.
One could question whether Red Land has had to face top competition. Its two routs of Jackson Township (13-2 and 12-0) seem to convey the team still looks elite, even when it's facing good teams. Jackson Township had beaten its previous opponents by a combined score of 17-4.
Red Land may not be seriously challenged until it meets the representatives from the international bracket. Even then, it might prove to stand head and shoulders above the competition.
The next step of the journey begins Friday when Red Land faces Webb City, Missouri. Webb City has obviously shined on its way to this point, but Red Land's pitching should rule in this matchup and beyond.
The team from Japan is Tokyo Kitasuna, and it is the pick to emerge from the international bracket. This team is next in a long line of successful Little League squads from the island nation. Its game against Asia-Pacific will undoubtedly be a major clash between perennial powers in the Little League universe.
Like Red Land in the Mid-Atlantic, Kitasuna has blown through the Japanese region en route to its spot in Williamsport. Kitasuna outscored opponents 44-4 in four games. Most recently, the team defeated Hachioji 20-3 to earn its region's title.
Kitasuna won the LLWS in 2001 and 2012, and it was the runner-up in 2007. Last year, it fell to the eventual champions from Seoul, South Korea.
Barring something unforeseen, it seems Red Land and Kitasuna are on a collision course for the championship game.