- MORESPORTS - Florida reaches U.S. final

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Wednesday, August 22
Updated: August 23, 10:56 AM ET
Florida reaches U.S. final

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Will Blankenship hit a three-run home run in the first inning and Apopka, Fla., held on for a 6-1 victory over Brownsburg, Ind., in a U.S. semifinal at the Little League World Series.

Will Blankenship
Will Blankenship's third home run in two nights helped put Apopka, Fla., in the U.S. championship game.
With runners on first and second, Blankenship hit the ball well over the left-field fence for his third home run of the series, giving Apopka a 3-0 lead in the top of the first.

Justin Lafavers (2-0) struck out four of the first five Brownsburg batters, giving up just three hits and two walks and finishing with seven strikeouts. T.J. Baumet (1-1) took the loss.

Apopka (3-1) advances to Saturday's U.S. championship against the winner of Thursday's semifinal between the Rolando Paulino team from the Bronx and Oceanside, Calif. The Bronx beat Apopka 5-0 in pool play when Danny Almonte threw just the third perfect game in Little League World Series history, striking out 16 Apopka batters.

Stuart Tapley hit an RBI double in the sixth inning to put Apopka up 6-1. Zach Zwieg's RBI single scored Tapley in the fifth, giving Apopka a 5-1 lead.

Michael Bradburn came home on a 1-3 ground out in the fourth inning, scoring the only run for Brownsburg (3-1).

Apopka went up 4-0 in the second inning when Brandon Brewer scored his second run, coming home on a passed ball.

Indiana won all three games in pool play against Louisiana, Rhode Island and California. Florida finished second in its pool, losing to New York before beating Washington and Iowa.

Japan 15, Mexico 5
Atsushi Mochizuki hit a grand slam in the fifth inning and finished with six RBIs as Tokyo Kitasuna defeated Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, 15-5 in an international semifinal game at the Little League World Series.

Takaaki Ohno was walked to start the fifth inning, and Masayuki Itoh was hit by a pitch before Yousuki Nomura's bunt loaded the bases. Mochizuki's homer made it 5-0, soaring about 270 feet over center field. The outfield wall at Howard J. Lamade Stadium is 205 feet.

Tatsuya Suzuki scored later in the fifth on an RBI single by Sugisawa to give Japan a 6-0 lead.

Ciro Castillo hit a three-run homer -- his second home run of the series - in the bottom of the fifth to bring Mexico within 6-3, but Mexico left a runner stranded when Jorge Camorlinga hit into a fielder's choice to end the inning.

The game got out of hand in the sixth, with Japan scoring nine runs: four on RBIs, one on a fielding error, two on wild pitches, one on a bases-loaded walk and one on a fielder's choice. Nomura's RBI double scored two runs to make it 15-3 before Mochizuki's fly ball to left field ended the inning.

Ricardo Rangel scored on an error in the sixth for Mexico, and Eduardo Flores' RBI single scored Fernando Garcia to make it 15-5.

Natsuki Sugisawa (1-0) got the win in his first start at the series, throwing five strikeouts and no walks. Pedro Rodriguez (0-1) took the loss.

Japan (3-1) will play either Guam or the Netherlands Antilles in the international championship Saturday. The second semifinal will be played Thursday.

Japan took a 1-0 lead in the third when Kazuki Ohkawara came home on a fielder's choice. Japan had runners on second and third with just one out, but Nobuhisa Baba struck out, and Tatsuya Suzuki hit a fly ball to left field to end the inning.

Mexico (2-2) had scoring opportunities early - they had five hits in the first three innings - but could not convert. In the second, they had runners on first and second with just one out, but Hector Garcia hit into a 6-3 double play to end the inning. In the third, they had a runners on first and third when Sugisawa threw a strikeout to end the inning.

Japan won its pool with wins over Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands Antilles and a loss to Panama. Mexico was second in its pool, losing to Guam before beating Canada and Russia.


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 Atsushi Mochizuki clears the bases with a fifth inning grand slam.
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 Japan gets out of trouble in the second when Hector Garcia hits into the 6-3 double-play.
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 Mexico's Ciro Castillo goes the opposite way for a 3-run home run.
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 Will Blankenship puts Apopka on top early with a 3-run homer in the first inning.
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