On Sunday, August 26, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the Tokyo and Goodlettsville, Tennessee, all-star teams put on their baseball uniforms and took to the diamond for the final game in the Little League World Series. Japan had been heavily favored to win throughout the tournament, but the southern boys did not want to give up the title without a fight.
Yet, Japan's impressive performance meant that the American team did not have a chance to prove themselves. After just four innings, 12-year-old star player Noriatsu Osaka hit his third home run to make it a 10-run game, and the battle was over at 12-2. In Little League, a berth of 10 runs ends the match no matter the inning.
The young players from Tennessee had grown close to the Tokyo team over the course of the tournament, and amiably shook hands before the match. The Japanese youngsters took their victory lap with flags from both countries in hand.
The final game was a display of excellence from Osaka and his teammates. He hit three homers and bagged a triple, and pitcher Kotaro Kiyomiya threw eight strikeouts on the mound.
"We had such a great time in Pennsylvania and we really played a good game today. It was kind of a, 'Thanks,'" Osaka told The Associated Press.
Tennessee's Goodlettsville all-stars have little to be ashamed of, though. Their high-stakes win against California on Saturday elevated them to the U.S. title. That game, which ended 24-16, set the record for most combined runs in the tournament. After a protracted game like Saturday's, Joey Hale, the Goodlettsville manager, said he knew his team would be "flat."
However, Hale told the news source that he knew once the U.S. champions returned south, it was "going to be a carnival."