Georgia to meet Japan in final
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - David Umphreville, Jr. had a two-run single and Zane Conlon snared a line drive to end a rally as Warner Robins, Ga., advanced to the Little League World Series final with a 5-2 win Saturday over Lubbock, Texas.
With runners on second and third and Georgia leading 4-2, Conlon moved quickly to his left to catch a hard liner off the bat of Lubbock's Bryndan Arredondo to end the fifth inning.
Conlon stumbled briefly to his knees before being mobbed by delighted teammates on his way to the dugout. The catch saved a potential game-tying hit by Texas.
After Georgia's Dalton Carriker struck out Jay Pendergrass to end the game, Carriker skipped home and jumped into the arms of catcher Kendall Scott so hard they fell over at home plate. Other delighted teammates soon joined them on the ground.
Warner Robins will play Tokyo for the Little League World Series championship on Sunday. Japan beat Willemstad, Curacao, 7-4, earlier Saturday for the international crown.
A Georgia win Sunday would give U.S. teams three straight World Series titles. The past two Georgia teams to advance to South Williamsport have come away with the World Series trophy, including Columbus last year and East Marietta in 1983.
As giddy Warner Robins players posed with the "U.S. champions" banner, their fans chanted, "USA! USA!"
Carriker homered and Umphreyville, Jr. added a two-run single in a three-run third inning that gave Warner Robins a 4-0 lead.
Lubbock's Garret Williams homered in the bottom of the third as Texas closed to 4-2. Umphreyville, Jr. scored on a bases-loaded walk to give Warner Robins a 5-2 lead.
Lubbock put runners on second and third with two outs before Carriker got Pendergrass to strike out swinging, starting the post-game Georgia celebration.
In the first game, Ryo Kanekubo's grand slam in the bottom of the sixth lifted Japan.
Kanekubo raised his right arm in triumph as soon as he smacked the 2-2 pitch, an inside fastball, over the hedges beyond the left-center field fence.
It was Kanekubo's second homer of the afternoon, and the second straight game that Japan ended with a winning home run.
"I think our team slogan is never give up," manager Youichi Kubo said through a translator.
Kanekubo's teammates mobbed him at the plate before the smiling squad snapped pictures with the international title banner.
Japan loaded the bases after several hard-hit singles, including a smash to third that Masaya Ogino beat out to load the bases for Kanekubo with one out.
Kubo said his 13-year-old slugger sometimes struggles with his confidence.
"Kanekubo can do it all the time but sometimes he thinks he cannot," Kubo said.
There was no doubt about Kanekubo's shot off reliever Rudson Pietersz that sent fans on the crowded hill behind the outfield scurrying for the ball.
Kanekubo's homer in the fifth tied the game at 3.
Curacao had regained the lead in the top of the sixth when Ulrick Carmelia's two-out double scored Suenley Paulina from second before Kelvin Moesquit was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Vincent Anthonia added two key hits and made a spectacular catch in center for Curacao.
With runners on first and second and two outs in the fourth, Ogino hit a hard, high liner to center. Anthonia backpedaled quickly, jumped and extended his glove for the catch.
The 12-year-old outfielder breathed a sign of relief and smiled after seeing the ball in his glove.