Tokyo advances to
Explosive Japan offense ready
for sequel with Curacao
By David Graham-Caso
Japan is ready for the International
Any doubt as to whether or not the Musashi-Fuchu Little League team
from Tokyo was as dominant as Japan teams of the recent past, was
quelled Thursday afternoon with a 7-1 victory over Mexico in the
Japan, which usually relies on superior
pitching and defense to win ballgames, has had another tool at its
disposal in 2003: an explosive offense.
Entering Thursday’s contest with Mexico,
Japan was statistically the best offensive team in the tournament. The
Tokyo squad was hitting .373 as a team, and had scored 28 runs in
Clean-up hitter Shigeki Umeda was responsible for the majority of the
offensive output, hitting .625 (5-for-8) with three homeruns in three
games. Umeda continued his week-long hitting display Thursday, going
2-for-2 with a second-inning homer.
regular season, I was a decent hitter,” Umeda said through interpreter
Bill Lundy. “Ever since our regional and district tournaments, I have
continued to improve.
“Now I guess I have become the homerun
hitter on the team.”
Japan starter Hirofumi Yamazaki pitched
well enough to win his second game of the Series. Yamazaki, whose
methodical wind-up can be timed with a sundial, allowed one run on
four hits. He struck out nine in his four innings of work.
“I was feeling
strong in the beginning of the game,” Yamazaki said through the
interpreter. “I thought I started off pitching well, but as the game
went on, I got tired.”
The one run that Yamazaki did allow came
off of an Alejandro Manjarrez leadoff round tripper in the fourth
inning. Manjarrez’s homer was his fourth in as many games.
Two more runs crossed for Japan in the
second frame after Umeda’s blast. Jun Onozawa and Yamazaki both came
in on a wild pitch by Manjarrez.
“That wild pitch was really important
because it brought in two runs,” said Mexico manager Andres Sanchez
through interpreter Micah Hughes. “Two runs can really affect a team
Japan next takes
on Curacao in the International Championship Saturday at 3 p.m. It is
the third time in three years that teams representing Japan and
Curacao will battle in the championship.
Little League defeated Curacao in Game Two of the 2003 World Series.
Curacao ace Tharick Martines, who threw in
his team’s semifinal victory, will not be available to pitch against
is not going to be able to pitch their ace pitcher, who we faced in
our first game,” said manager Masumi Ohmae. “So I hope we are going to
be all right.”