Homers lift Japan into LLWS final

AFP-JIJI

Kitasuna hit five home runs, including two from 13-year-old Kotaro Kiyomiya, to beat Panama 10-2 Saturday and reach the Little League World Series title game.

The team from Tokyo won the international title and was set to return Sunday for the championship game in the youth baseball tournament against a team from Goodlettsville, Tennessee, which advanced to the championship game with a 24-16 victory over Petaluma, California.

At 183 cm, Kiyomiya is an imposing figure at the plate and his slugging power is such that fans sitting beyond the right-field fence began holding up a “Kotaro Target” sign when he batted.

Rintaro Hirano, Noriatsu Osaka and Satoru Aoyama also homered for Japan, whose starting pitcher Yuta Ishida allowed four hits and struck out six over four innings, while three relievers combined for two shutout innings.

Teams from Japan have won the international bracket in the Little League World Series five times in the last seven years, but the country’s lone title in that time came in 2010.