Tenn. outlasts Calif. in Little League classic

By Genaro C. Armas

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Aug. 25 2012 8:32 p.m. MDT

Japan relied on the bats in the early game, too, getting five homers, including two from 13-year-old slugger Kotaro Kiyomiya, for the international championship.

The 6-foot Kiyomiya is imposing at the plate, and he set the tone early with a first-inning blast that sailed deep down the right-field line.

Edisson Gonzalez had an RBI single in the first while Daniel Castro added a run-scoring double in the second for Panama. Those runs got Panama to 4-2 going into the third.

But Japan didn't let up.

Rintaro Hirano homered to center in the third before Kiyomiya went deep again in the fourth, this time the opposite way to left-center to make it 7-2.

Starter Yuta Ishida allowed four hits and struck out six over four innings, while three relievers combined for two shutout innings to close out the game.

"Yes we can! Yes we can," Panama's fans chanted in Spanish through the sixth, down by eight.

The game was such a big deal for Panama that Mario Jaramillo, the country's ambassador to the United States, watched the game.

But it was Japan celebrating at the end. Their players smiled and posed for a picture at the mound with their new prize — the international championship banner.

Coach Junji Hidaka would rather his team not rely so much on the long ball come Sunday,

"We only scored on home runs today, I would advise the players not to try for more homers" Sunday, Hidaka said. "We need to string our hits together."

Panama committed four errors on the day, including two in the second that led to another Japan run. Still, Panama showed signs of keeping up with Japan's powerful offense after Castro's double made it 4-2 in the second.

Ishida shut them down from there and didn't allow a base runner over his final 2 1-3 innings.

"It was a difficult game against a good pitching team," manager Luis Gonzalez said. "The team had confidence after scoring in the first inning but (two errors in the second) really stopped our momentum."

A traditional World Series powerhouse, Japan has won the international bracket five times in the past seven years. But it has won the World Series title game only once during that span, in 2010.

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