In an game with a ton of offense, Japan simply wouldn't stop scoring runs, and Nobuyuki Kawashima shut down the powerful Lewisberry, Pennsylvania, offense after a fast start.
Japan won the 2015 Little League World Series 18-11 on Sunday in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Per the ABC broadcast, it was the highest-scoring championship game in history.
ESPN's SportsCenter acknowledged the winners:
It was a seesaw affair early on. Japan took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but the team from Lewisberry fired back with 10 runs in the bottom half. It looked like another runaway win for the American team that had proven to be so dominant leading up to this point in the LLWS.
Lewisberry had outscored its opponents 232-15 through its first 15 games, per Aaron Kasinitz of PennLive.com.
There was no quit in Japan.
Led by the Komita twins, Shingo and Kengo, Japan responded with five runs in the second to move within three runs. Kawashima took the ball and the air out of the Pennsylvania offense in the process. Tom Robinson of TeamUSA.org drops the stats to put Kawashima's performance in perspective.
During the resurgent second inning, Kengo and Shingo both homered, but Shingo wasn't done after his second inning blast. He'd add another long ball in the third inning that helped to push Japan ahead.
Even though Shingo Komita went yard twice and the Japanese offense tallied 18 runs, Kawashima was the most important to the champions' success. Pennsylvania looked like the 1927 New York Yankees after an inning, but Kawashima played the role of crafty left-hander and befuddled his opponents.
It's hard to make a case for a pitcher in a game that featured 29 runs, but Kawashima truly changed the game. The official LLWS Twitter account captures Japan enjoying their moment.
While Sunday was disappointing for Lewisberry, it should be proud of what it accomplished. The American team that was playing in its home state packed the Howard J. Lamade Stadium each time it played. Take a look at the attendance numbers for Sunday's finale:
Chayton Krauss was the hero in the U.S. final as his walk-off single gave Lewisberry the win over Pearland, Texas. After his huge hit, Krauss said this about his moment, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com):
"It felt awesome, and it was amazing to get that hit and it felt great. I just remember that he had a decent fastball and decent curveball and I got a fastball and just drilled it."
Unfortunately on Sunday, he was one of the pitchers who couldn't slow the Japanese batters during their furious comeback from an eight-run deficit. It looked at one point as if this team had the goods necessary to become the first American champions since Huntington Beach won in 2011. In the end, however, Japan was too strong.
The win marked the 10th time a Japanese team has won the LLWS and the sixth time since 2000.