SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Canada is heading home from the Little League World Series with its head held high.
The team from Langley, B.C., lost a 4-0 decision to Japan on Tuesday in an elimination game.
Despite the elimination, Canada leaves the tournament with pride after a surprising victory in a must-win game against nemesis Taiwan and a good effort against Japan.
“We lost to the defending champs 4-0. We held our own,” Canadian coach Jason Andrews said when asked how his team handled elimination.
“It’s been a while since Canada did that. I think we represented very well. They’re very upbeat, very happy with the way they played.”
Ken Igeta went 2-for-3 with and RBI and a run scored for Japan, while catcher Asuya Otsuka added an RBI triple .
Nick Atkinson went 3-for-3, while Yi-Fan Pan accounted for the other two Canadian hits.
Cole Cantelon allowed four runs on six hits in 4 1-3 innings for Canada, which put two runners on in the bottom of the sixth before Connor McCreath grounded out weakly to first to end the game.
Shoto Totsuka struck out four over two innings before giving way to relievers Hiroyasu Sugiura and Takuya Okamoto. Japan will play either Mexico or Venezuela on Thursday.
It took Japan a few innings to figure out Cantelon, though.
“It was a very fast fastball, but his location and his tempo were hard to time,” Sigiura said through interpreter Kotaro Omori.
Japan took a 3-0 lead in the third. Kaito Suzuki scored on an Igeta double to left to get things going.
Igeta then scored on Yoshiki Suzuki’s double to centre before Otsuka tripled to centre to bring home Japan’s third run.
The lead was stretched to 4-0 in the fourth when Suzuki scored on a Gaishi Iguchi triple to right.
Canada, which made the tournament after defeating a team from Valleyfield, Que., in the national final, advanced to face Japan after defeating Taiwan 5-3 on Monday.
That marked the first time a Canadian team had defeated Taiwan in 17 trips at the Little League World Series.
Canada’s lone appearance in the Little League World Series title game was in 1965, when a team from Stoney Creek, Ont., lost 3-1 to Windsor Locks, Conn., in the final
“It’s been fantastic, they’ve grown so much as a team and players,” Andrews said. “I’ve been very tough on them, very intense on them, and they’ve all grown with this experience.
“It’s been tough ball, it’s been another step up from where they’ve been at, and they’ve really accepted the challenge and stepped up their game.”.