Japan won its eighth Little League World Series Sunday with a dominating victory over Tennessee.
Just a day after a high-scoring 24-16 victory over California, the Tennessee squadron was unable to muster much offense while Japan was on a roll. Japan won when Noriatsu Osaka hit his third home run, ending the game with a 12-2 mercy rule in the fifth inning.
Starter Kotaro Kiyomiya struck out eight in four innings while the 12-year old Osaka went 4-for-4. The New York Times reported that after the win, in a symbolic move, the Japanese players did a victory lap carrying the Japanese and American flags.
“We had such a great time in Pennsylvania and we really played a good game today,” Osaka said. “It was kind of a ‘Thanks.’ “
Japan hit five home runs in the win, but Tennessee’s only two runs came on solo home runs by Brock Myers and Lorenzo Butler.
Still the year was a success for Tennessee. USA Today reported that the Goodlettsville team was the first from Tennessee to reach the final in Williamsport since 1987. The Tennessee team claimed the US championship Saturday. Tennessee lost a 10-run lead in the bottom of the sixth but would score nine runs in the next inning to finally put away California in a Little League World Series classic, but the thrilling victory may have taken something out them.
“We knew we would be flat today — their parents and these kids,” manager Joey Hale said.
While no one likes to lose, Hale acknowledged that the loss hasn’t dampened the team’s spirit too much.
“When we get home, it’s going to be a carnival,” Hale said.
It was Japan’s second Little League World Series championship in three seasons.