SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, PA, August 25, 2013—Forget about today’s PGA final, pre-season NFL football and the Major League Baseball game between the Braves and the Cardinals. Today the Little League World Series will crown a champion when the team from Chula Vista, Calif. plays Japan at 3 p.m. EDT on ABC.
Rather than watch ridiculously high paid professional athletes, consider watching 11 to 13 year-old kids whose only motivation is a love of the game and the possibility of winning a world championship.
Yesterday perennial powerhouse Japan defeated Tijuana, Mexico, 3-2 with the usual display of skill and finesse the team has exhibited in recent years. It was the 11th win a row in the international bracket for Japan, which hasn’t lost a game since 2009.
A year ago an all-star team from Tokyo won Japan’s eighth world title and second in three seasons. Japan will make its sixth appearance in eight years in the World Series finals. But their opponent, the team from Chula Vista, California, is no stranger to world championship games, with seven previous victories under their belts.
In recent years California and Japan have dominated the competition, alternating championships over the last four years. Each team has won 2 games in this period of time, adding even more pressure to today’s battle for the banner.
Yesterday California’s 12-1 victory over Westport, Conn was led by starting pitcher Nick Mora. Not only did he strike out 10 batters and walk only one, Mora also hit a three run homer and an RBI single that ensured another showdown with Japan.
Mora’s strong pitching performance also gave California’s ace right-hander Grant Holman a chance to rest his arm in preparation for today’s showdown with Japan.
The 6‘4”, 166-pound 13-year-old Holman is having a series that will not soon be forgotten.
Holman pitched the first extra-inning no-hitter in the Little League World Series since 1979, striking out 13 in seven innings in a 3-0 first-round victory over Grosse Pointe, Mich. Holman also won Wednesday night’s game against Connecticut with a three-run homer in the ninth inning. He also hit a grand slam in the fourth inning that ended a mercy rule-shortened 15-3 victory over Newark, Del.
There is no doubt Grant Holman has made a name for himself in this year’s series, but every player has worked long and hard in their young lives to make it this far. The skill displayed as they bat, pitch and field the ball is a thing of beauty.
Playing with a focus just as intense as any millionaire big leaguer, the occasional boyish grin that slips through their no-nonsense attitude is priceless.
Today when Japan and California take the field, the contest will determine a world champion. In doing this, these fine young athletes will serve as shining examples for everyone. They will remind us all that hard work and determination can be about something more important than money.
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