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
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
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.