Japan shuts out Mexico for LLWS international title
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Good pitching and colorful home-run trots are the hallmarks of the undefeated team from Kawaguchi City, Japan.
Go Matsumoto homered and got starter Seigo Yada out of a sixth-inning jam with some sharp relief pitching in Japan's 3-0 win on Saturday night over Mexico to capture the Little League World Series international championship.
Earlier, Brady Hamilton drove in two runs and J.T. Phillips struck out eight to help Columbus, Ga., defeat Beaverton, Ore., 7-3 to win the U.S. title.
Japan and Georgia will play Sunday (3:30 p.m., ABC) for the LLWS championship.
Yada started for Japan and dominated until the sixth, when Mexico managed three straight singles to load the bases with nobody out.
In came Matsumoto to close the door.
"I entered with the bases loaded and I was nervous. When I was warming up, I felt like I had a good fastball," Matsumoto said through an interpreter.
Did he ever. The lanky, 5-foot-10 reliever with the long delivery struck out the first two batters he faced, then ended the game by getting a weak groundout to first.
Mexico starter Josue Barron was good early, striking out six and retiring the side through the first three innings. Fans waving the green, white and yellow flag of Mexico shouted "Josue, Josue, Josue," often drowning out the rhythmic clapping of Japanese fans.
Japan's sluggers got to Barron in the fourth. Leadoff hitter Yada sent a 1-0 pitch over the left-field wall. Two batters later, Matsumoto hit the first pitch he saw from Barron into a grassy patch just before the hedges beyond the center field fence.
"The difference in the game was one bad inning from our starting pitcher," Mexican manager Candelario Perez said through an interpreter.
After each shot, while rounding the bases, Japan's hitters would nearly lean to the ground on one knee and pump an arm in front of them. After Yada reached the plate on his homer, he was greeted by awaiting teammates who did the same move.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.