Japan beats Lufkin, Texas, 12-2 for Little League World Series title

By Matt Martell and Jack Dougherty, The Associated Press

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Tsubasa Tomii buckled down after allowing two first-inning home runs and Japan hit three homers in the fourth and won the Little League World Series title with a 12-2 victory over Lufkin, Texas, on Sunday.

Keitaro Miyahara laced a two-run triple with two outs in the second to tie it at 2, and hit a solo shot in the fourth after fouling a ball off his foot earlier in the at-bat. Daisuke Hashimoto and Natsuki Yajima also homered in the fourth.

Tomii cruised through the final four innings and finished with nine strikeouts.

After starter Chip Buchanan was pulled in the fourth inning, Lufkin had trouble getting outs and the game was stopped in the fifth inning after Japan went ahead by 10 on Yajima’s single to right field to score Seiya Arai.

The title marks the 11th time a team from Japan has won the Little League World Series, five of which have come in the last eight years. Tokyo Kitasuna, the club representing Japan this season, has won three of the last six.

Lufkin had a six-run comeback victory over Greenville, North Carolina, in the U.S. championship game Saturday to reach the final. And early on, it looked as though the team’s momentum would carry through the championship.

Japan had allowed only one run in the tournament heading into Sunday’s game, but that changed when Chandler Spencer crushed the first pitch over the left-center field fence.

Hunter Ditsworth cracked an opposite-field homer down the right-field line to put Lufkin up 2-0 with one out in the first. But after Miyahara’s triple in the second, Ryusei Fujiwara fisted a single to right to bring Miyahara home and make the score 3-2.