Coming off the first day of eliminations at the Little League World Series, Sunday brings the winners back into the mix with four games featuring eight teams.
Even though no one will be knocked out of the tournament, Sunday is vital to setting up what will happen at Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The winners also have the advantage of getting at least one extra day off to set up their pitching staff.
Sunday LLWS Schedule
|2015 Little League World Series Schedule - August 23|
|Start Time (ET)||Matchup||Network||Live Stream||Prediction|
|11 a.m.||Latin America vs. Europe-Africa||ESPN||Watch ESPN||Latin America, 6-3|
|3 p.m.||Southwest vs. West||ABC||Watch ESPN||West, 8-5|
|5 p.m.||Mexico vs. Japan||ESPN||Watch ESPN||Japan, 3-2|
|7 p.m.||Southeast vs. Mid-Atlantic||ESPN2||Watch ESPN||Southeast, 7-5|
What to Watch For
The best game on Sunday features Texas (Southwest) and California (West). These two clubs had different yet impressive victories in their Little League World Series openers on Friday.
Texas defeated Oregon 1-0 in a game that featured a grand total of two hits, with Texas getting the edge thanks to an Isaac Garcia home run in the fourth inning. The right-hander also tossed 1.2 scoreless innings in relief of Jarrett Tadlock.
Speaking after the win, via ESPN.com, Texas manager Andrew Solomon praised the high level of play of both teams.
"That was a great baseball game," Solomon said. "There were no errors, no walks and one hit by each team. That was baseball at its finest. It was an awesome game at any level, but to watch boys who are 12 and 13 years old play that level on that stage was incredible."
California put on a hitting clinic against Kentucky in its 14-2 win, smashing six home runs. Nick Maldonado had the big blast, a grand slam in the third inning to make it 9-0.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, California's performance in the third inning will go down in the annals of Little League World Series history:
These are two well-coached and disciplined teams that don't make a lot of mistakes in the field and have strong pitching across the board and power in the lineup. It will be a heavyweight fight with California coming out on top thanks to a deeper offense.
On the international side, Japan vs. Mexico has all the makings of an epic clash. It would be hard to find a more dominant pitching performance than Mexico's shutout win over Canada on Friday. Daniel Zaragoza and Gerardo Lujano combined on a three-hit shutout, striking out 13 hitters.
Canada starter Matthew Wilkinson is one pitcher who could claim to have thrown a better game, as he struck out 16 hitters. Mexico caught a break when he was taken out after five innings, getting a walk-off single from Zaragoza.
(South Carolina right-hander Alex Edmondson should also be mentioned on the list of dominant starts after throwing his second consecutive no-hitter against Rhode Island.)
Japan has a strong one-two punch in the lineup with Shingo Tomita and Kengo Tomita. Shingo is the spark plug at the top of the order, setting the tone as he did with a leadoff home run against Asia-Pacific, while Kengo had two solo homers.
With that kind of pop in the lineup, Japan gets a slight advantage in this game. Mexico's offense has to show it can make contact after a slow start against Canada.