The Lufkin Little League All-Stars' dream season came to an end Sunday in a 12-2 loss to Japan Sunday in the World Championship game of the Little League World Series.
The game started very favorable for Lufkin, after Chandler Spencer hit the very first pitch out of center field. One out later, Hunter Ditsworth hit his own homer to right field.
But Japan took over from there, scoring three runs in the second, four in the fourth and five in the fifth.
Following the first inning, Lufkin just managed two more baserunners. Chip Buchanan walked in the second and Clayton Wigley singled in the fifth.
"Just like i told them,Ii'll take credit for that," Manager Bud Maddux said. "That boy just threw a good game. That's a great team, Japan is. Can't hang your head because they beat you. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience."
In the second inning, Keitaro Miyaha's two-out triple scored two runs to tie the game. Ryusei Fujiwara followed that up with a single to score Miyaha to give Japan the lead.
In the fourth, Daisuke Hashimoto hit a pinch-hit home run to extend the lead to 4-2. One out later, Keitaro Miyahara homered. A single and a popout later and Natsuki Yajima hit a two-run homer.
Japan scored five more runs in the sixth to end the game.
Maddux said he had mixed emotions after the game.
"I'm disappointed for those young men," Maddux said. "But I'm really proud of what we accomplished. We've been together night and day for the past two and a half months. Then it's just over. They were ready to play the game. They're disappointed. But they're also proud of what they've done."
“We fought hard all the way up to the championship game," Chandler said. "We fell short but that’s okay because it was an amazing time and amazing summer.”
”I didn’t think we would get here," Buchanan said. "I knew we would make it far but it has been a once in a lifetime opportunity that I have enjoyed.”
The Tokyo Kitasuna team has now won four World Series since 2001.
The team won the title in 2001, 2012 and 2015.
The team was also the runner-up in 2007 and they participated in 2014.
The game was played before an announced attendance of 24,863.
Tsubasa Tomii got the win, pitching a complete game. He struck out nine.
"After that second home run I maintained my composure and hit the corners and I was fine afterwards," Tomii said through an interpreter.
Maddux said he did not know if he would return to coach another Little League team.
"These young men I've really grown close to and I hate to see it end," he said while fighting back tears.
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