The international championship game has been set, as Japan will play Mexico at the 2013 Little League World Series. The winner of that battle will earn international supremacy and clinch a berth in the Little League World Series title game.
Who will come through with the victory?
Mexico clinched its berth in the international championship game by defeating Latin America 4-2 after scoring two runs in the top of the seventh inning. With the win, Mexico moves on to face Japan and will compete for its first international championship since 2008.
It will take a heroic effort against Japan to get the job done.
Who's ready for some baseball?
Date: Saturday, Aug. 24
Time: 12:30 p.m. ET
Japan's Dominant Pitching vs. Mexico's Explosive Hitting
Thus far, Japan's pitching staff has held opponents to an average of 2.3 runs per game. While that number is impressive, it is the teams Japan has dominated that offer the most insight.
Asia-Pacific averaged 7.7 runs per game, and Mexico averaged 9.7, against teams other than Japan. Japan held both squads to two runs.
If Japan is to win the international championship, its pitchers must step up once again.
That shouldn't be too much of a concern, as Japan's pitching staff is deep and without too many flaws. The bullpen is strong, the starters have been consistent, and Japan has been exceptional during the late innings.
If its bats are able to provide quality run support, Japan will be just as tough to beat as we expected it would be.
But Mexico should not be confused with a team that can't hit against Japan. Mexico has been dominant against high-quality opponents throughout the tournament. And after a close victory over Panama, it's now clear Mexico can survive if things get close.
Keep in mind that Japan has the unfortunate task of attempting to win consecutive games against an elite foe.
Brandon Montes homered in each of his first three games—including once against Japan—and Jorge Romero hit a two-run game-winner against Panama. That seems to be the theme in every game: Mexico goes yard and derails the confidence of every pitcher it faces.
Mexico isn't an underdog. If the Mexican team stays focused against Japan, it will prove the elite status we already know it possesses.
This marks the second time in less than a week Japan will play Mexico at the 2013 Little League World Series. The first time they met, Japan defeated Mexico by a score of 5-2 to complete its undefeated run to the international championship game.
Don't let the final score fool you. This was a down-to-the-wire contest.
Japan used three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to pick up a thrilling victory. Kazuki Ishida hit a solo shot to break the tie, enabling Tokyo to break through and take down the most dominant force of the 2013 Little League World Series.
A shocking development, to say the least.
Prior to the game against Japan, Mexico had outscored its opponents by a count of 25-0. If that number hasn't already blown you away, note that Mexico created that margin in just two games.
Just like that, Mexico went from 12.5 runs per game to a two-run performance against Japan.
In a rematch between these two teams, it's easy to label Japan the favorite. With that being said, Mexico was in the first game until the very end and picked up a momentous victory over Panama in the late innings.
Expect Mexico to exact a measure of revenge and move on to the final of the Little League World Series.
Mexico 5, Japan 3
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