Wed, Aug 30, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Columbus take little league title

BACK-TO-BACK US WINS The team from Georgia overcame their Japanese opponents to secure the first repeat victory for the US in more than 20 years

AP , SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, PENNSYLVANIA

Columbus' winning pitcher Kyle Carter, second from right, celebrates with teammates Ryan Lang, left, and J.T. Phillips, right, after beating Japan 2-1 to win the Little League World Series Championship baseball game on Monday in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

PHOTO: AP

Cody Walker hit a two-run homer off ace Go Matsumoto and Kyle Carter struck out 11 as Columbus, Georgia, beat Kawaguchi City, Japan, 2-1 to win the Little League World Series final on Monday.

It was the second straight US victory in the Series, coming on the heels of Ewa Beach, Hawaii's win over a team from Willemstad, Curacao last year. The US hadn't captured back-to-back Little League titles with different teams since 1982-83.

Long Beach, California was a repeat champion in 1992-93 -- the first victory awarded after a Philippines squad was stripped of the title for using over-age players.

Matsumoto had devastated hitters in this tournament with his powerful fastball. It was potent again for him on Monday, except for Walker's shot in the third inning that followed a baserunning blunder.

Carter overcame a bout of wildness in the sixth and final inning. With two runners on, he got Ryoya Sato to hit a weak bouncer to Josh Lester at second for the last out of the game.

Columbus players rushed toward Lester, skipping up and down in celebration and tossing their gloves to the sky.

Then they posed on the mound for a group picture with a banner that proclaimed them "World Series Champions" as their gloves were strewn across the infield.

Columbus' rally was nearly thwarted by Carter's mistake on the bases.

Carter took off from first on Lester's single to center but didn't heed the stop sign thrown by manager Randy Morris at third. He was nailed at home for the second out, sliding into the catcher's shin guards well short of the plate.

It didn't matter, because Walker then hit his opposite-field shot over the right field fence. Lester pumped his fist as he rounded third, and Morris got so excited as Walker circled the bases that his hat fell off. Jubilant teammates greeted Walker at the plate.

Japan is known for its power hitting, having hit 11 homers in its first five games of the Series, including four by Seigo Yada and two by Matsumoto. The international champions used small ball to score their only run in the third inning on Monday.

Yada hit a one-out bouncer into center. Pinch-hitter Yusuke Inuzuka missed on two bunt attempts but advanced Yada to second with a slow grounder down the third-base line.

Matsumoto, who struck out nine and walked two, followed with a high chopper up the middle that drove in Yada.

Rain forced the title game to be pushed back from Sunday, and organizers then moved the starting time ahead by three hours after weather forecasts showed another chance of rain in the evening.

American League

AP, CLEVELAND

Grady Sizemore homered, doubled twice and scored three runs to help Paul Byrd bounce back from a brutal outing, lifting the Cleveland Indians over the Toronto Blue Jays 6-4 on Monday.

Sizemore leads the AL with 75 extra-base hits, two more than Boston's David Ortiz. Ryan Garko added a pair of RBI doubles off A.J. Burnett (6-6) as the Indians improved to a major league-best 14-5 since Aug. 9.

Mariners 2, Angels 0

At Seattle, Felix Hernandez (11-12) pitched a five-hitter for his first career shutout, stopping Seattle's 20-game losing streak against the AL West.

Hernandez threw 95 pitches, struck out four and walked none in his second complete game in 38 major league starts. The game took just 1 hour, 51 minutes, the fastest in the history of Safeco Field, which opened in July 1999.

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