SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, PENNSYLVANIA – Japan picked a perfect time to find its power stroke.
Suguru Kanamori homered twice and Ren Takeuchi also had a big day, helping the Tokyo Kitasuna LL beat Mexico 12-1 on Thursday to advance to the international championship of the Little League World Series.
Hayato Ueshima had a leadoff drive for Japan’s first homer of the tournament, and Kanamori also went deep in the first. Kanamori added a three-run shot in the fifth, giving Japan the mercy-rule victory.
Ueshima, who raced around the bases with a wide smile on his face, said he doesn’t hit home runs often.
“To hit a home run, and it was the team’s first of the tournament. . . . I’m very happy about that,” Ueshima said.
Japan will play South Korea for the title on Saturday. It lost 4-2 to South Korea on Wednesday.
“I’m looking forward to that game,” Japan manager Junji Hidaka said.
Takeuchi allowed one hit, Juan Garza’s leadoff homer in the first, in 3⅔ innings. He also went 2-for-3 with three RBIs in the five-inning game.