Mexico fought their way from the loser’s bracket but were done in by the brilliant pitching staff of Japan. The Southwest were able to overcome a brilliant pitching staff facing the Southeast and got a bit of revenge after an earlier loss.
Japan 5 Mexico 0
When Keitaro Miyahara led off the first inning for Japan with a homerun Mexico knew it would be tough to overcome. The Japan pitching staff had only given up one run in their first three games. When Japan tacked on three more in the inning the task became that much more difficult. Riku Goto was up to the task, pitching 5.2 innings of shutout ball, striking out 13 batters. The only event that drove him from the game was the pitch count. After the homerun by Miyahara Japan loaded the bases on a strikeout/wild pitch, an error and a walk. Yuya Nakajima drove in two runs with a single in the first inning and a double in the fifth.
For Japan and Kitasuna Little League this is their fifth Little League World Series Championship. They won the Little League World Series in 2001, 2012 and 2015 and finished second in 2007. They have also appeared in three of the last four Little League World Series, losing to Korea in the 2014 International championship. In 2015 Kitasuna Little League eliminated a team from Mexico to advance to the championship. They beat a team from the Mid-Atlantic to win the championship in 2015. They now appear again in the 2017 championship.
Southwest (Lufkin) 6 Southeast (North State) 5
The last time these two teams played Southeast won 2-1. One consolation for the Southwest is they had gotten the first hit and first run off the Southeast pitching staff in that game. On the mound for the Southeast was relative newcomer Carson Hardee, who had only pitched 1/3 of an inning. Matthew Matthijs and Chase Anderson were the primary pitchers for the Southeast, both combining in the back to back no hitters. Matthijs had reached his pitch limit for this game but was eligible for the championship. He had not allowed a hit in 9 innings and struck out 12 of the 13 Southwest hitters he faced in their 2-1 win. Chase Anderson had allowed just one hit in his 8.2 innings of work but was eligible to pitch in this game.
The Southeast jumped out to a 5-0 lead. JoeJoe Byrne and Bryce Jackson each drove in two runs. Carson Hardee held the Southwest to zero the first three innings. The chink in the armor began to be exposed in the fourth inning when Carson Wigley slugged a two run homer, following the two out single by Mark Requena. The fifth inning was filled with wild pitches and an error that saw two more runners cross the plate to make the score 5-4. Chase Anderson was called on in the fifth and was charged with one of the two runs in the inning.
The sixth saw Collin Ross lead off the inning with a hit by pitch. Mark Requena then shocked Williamsport with a two run homer to finish an amazing comeback win from a 5-0 deficit to give Lufkin a 6-5 lead. Facing the bottom of the Southeast order Chip Buchanan retired the side in order to secure the domestic championship.
For Lufkin this is their first appearance in the Little League World Series. They are not veterans of the event like Kitasuna. The championship match begins tomorrow. Japan has only given up one run in the four games they have played. Lufkin has seen that story before.