16U: Japan hands USA 1st Loss at 16U Baseball World Championship
Japan plays for Bronze after 8-6 Thriller in Extra Innings

Panamerican Stadium. Lagos de Moreno. August 27, 2011.

In one of the biggest upsets in the 2011 IBAF 16U Baseball World Championship Japan stunned Team USA with an 8-6 win on Saturday evening at Panamerican Stadium in Lagos de Moreno. After giving away a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, Japan came through in the tenth with two runs to decide the outcome. They now will go into the bronze medal game thanks to 4-2 record in the second round. Team USA already was qualified for the championship game. It was their first loss in the tournament.

After both teams had to rally on Friday, Japan found its rhythm first, taking a quick 3-0 lead through two innings. Hayate Yasuda hit a RBI double in the first. Kugimiya and Abe followed with a RBI fielder’s choice and a sac bunt to drive in two more runs in the second. A throwing error by the catcher on a pickoff try and a RBI single by Taishi Bamba made it 5-0 in the top of the fifth.

Team USA started its first rally in the bottom half of the frame. Riley Unroe tripled home two runs to end the shutout try. He later scored on a groundout by Austin Meadows to make it a two-run game. In the seventh Zachary Collins hit another homerun over the wall in center field to cut the deficit to 4-5. In the top of the ninth Japan added an insurance run on a RBI fielder’s choice by Koki Abe. It wasn’t enough to seal the deal.

In the bottom of the ninth Team USA initiated another comeback, putting runners on first and second with one out. A double steal by William Abreu and Austin Meadows caused a throwing error by Japan’s catcher, which scored both runners, when the throw back into the infield got away as well. They didn’t stop there. Another error and a double put two more runners in scoring position, a walk loaded the bases. Dominic Nunez struck out to set up the stage for Bryson Brigman. But one of the best players in the tournament grounded out to bring the game into extra innings.

With the IBAF Extra Inning Tiebreaker Rule in effect, the tenth inning didn’t start too well for Team USA. A passed ball moved both runners into scoring position. Hayate Yasuda followed a Koki Abe strikeout with a groundball to the American third baseman. He tried to get the runner from third and the throw beat him to the plate, but the catcher couldn’t hold on to it and Japan regained the lead. After a strikeout to Daiki Asama, Bamba hit a groundball to second base and beat the throw to the bag, scoring another run to make it 8-6 Japan.

In the bottom of the tenth the defending champion couldn’t move the runners forward. Japan’s closer Shota Tatsuta, who wasn’t able to get the job done in the ninth, was up to his task one inning later. Riley Unroe and Meadows each struck out to bring Collins to the plate. His flyout to left field ended the contest.

(From IBAF website)