Japan wins Little League World Series title

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — The crack of the bat, the gasp from the crowd, a fist pump on the trip around the bases and then a happy hop to waiting teammates at home plate.

Japan went through the routine three times in the fourth inning of the Little League World Series championship Sunday as Daisuke Hashimoto, Keitaro Miyahara and Natsuki Yajima homered, turning a tight game with Lufkin, Texas, into a 12-2 rout.

Tsubasa Tomii buckled down after allowing two first-inning home runs, finishing with nine strikeouts in a game that was stopped in the bottom of 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.