Tokyo’s Kitasuna baseball team, Japan’s Little League World Series representative, captured the overall championship in the Little League World Series held in South Williamsport, Penn., on Aug. 30.
The Kitasuna team defeated the U.S. Little League champions from Lewisberry, Penn., the Mid-Atlantic representative, in an offensive duel that ended in an 18-11 comeback victory.
Despite being down by eight runs in the first inning, the Japanese players went on to start a stunning rally, in which they outscored their opponent 18-3. Tokyo fought back with seven runs in the second inning, four in the third inning and five in the sixth inning for the victory. Three of Japan’s players played a vital role in the final outcome of the game — Masafuji Nishijima had six RBI’s, Shingo Tomita hit two home runs and pitcher Nobuyuki Kawashima gave up only one run over five innings.
Japan’s coach, Junji Hidaka, said he knew the game wasn’t over after that bad first inning. Speaking through a translater, Hidaka said, “I told the players it doesn’t end until it ends.
Kitasuna’s victory was the nation’s 10th Little League World Series title and its fourth championship in the past six years. Despite winning double-digit titles, Japan still trails Taiwan, who holds a remarkable 17 titles, despite not winning one since 1996.
History was also made in the championship game with an historic first inning by the American team. Lewisberry scored a record 10 runs in the first inning, but that wasn’t the only record broken. Both teams combined for 23 runs in the game, and Japan’s eight-run deficit was the largest comeback in any Little League World Series game.