SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT — More runs had not been scored since 1947.
But in this game between Red Land and Japan for the Little League World Series championship, that record was broken.
30 hits and seven home runs highlighted the score sheet in Japan’s win over Red Land, 18-11, on Sunday afternoon. Tears and sad faces showed on the Red Land team, but they need not have after an undefeated season to this point and success on the biggest stage of them all.
“I think we gave them a good game, at least for most of the game,” manager Tom Peifer said. “They were out there hitting pitches I had never seen being hit. Especially for 12-year-old’s.”
A battle is what it came down to. Red Land had gone up 10-2 in the first inning — a new World Series record for runs scored in an inning — only to have Japan battle back to within one, 10-9, in the top of the second.
During that one inning for Chayton Krauss, the chosen starting pitcher for the day, he gave up six runs including two home runs to Yugo Aoki and Kengo Tomita. However, Krauss had a shutdown performance despite what the score cards will show before he was relieved by Jaden Henline, who Peifer believed was one of the MVP’s for his team.
“He’s definitely an MVP for the team today,” Peifer said. “He went out there and he battled. He came back to me and told me his arm was sore, but he went out there and battled.”
Between batting and pitching for Henline, most would agree.
Henline and Kaden Peifer turned out to be a shutdown duo going into the final inning, down 13-11. In his four innings pitched, Henline got the only strikeout of the day and allowed nine runs on 13 hits.
This shutdown performance for the two would not have been possible if not for the offense they were getting from the Red Land bats, which started way back in the first inning — an inning that showcased the most action for the Pennsylvania team.
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A grand slam for Dylan Rodenhaber began Red Land’s domination of the international team, followed by a home run from Henline, who turned out to be dominant in both the batter’s box and from the mound.
The fourth and fifth innings would see a lull in play as the defense and pitchers for both sides shut down their opposition. Japan’s pitchers managed to shut down Cole Wagner, Red Land’s infamous powerhouse, throughout those innings with three strikeouts in a row. This may have been due to the leftovers of a migraine Wagner had suffered Saturday night.
“He said he was okay. I asked him and he said he was ready to go,” Peifer said. “We have to watch him in the sun and the heat because he gets frequent migraines, but he said he was okay to go.”
The top of the sixth saw an optimistic Red Land team stand on its last leg. Japan saw five runs come out of a bad inning for Red land. Peifer seemed to be shaken up as he threw from the mound, racking up three errors on his performance and seemingly closing the final chapter for the team.
But the loss, no matter how heartbreaking, is no reason to hang their heads.
Red Land comes out of this experience as the United States champions of Little League, finishing second in the World Series.
Not too shabby for the hometown team from Lewisberry.
“I’m so proud of them,” Peifer said. “The’ye surely going to have a heroes’ welcome when they get back to Lewisberry, and they can hold their heads high for how far they’ve come.”
Stay red hot, Red Land.