Japan beats Canada to advance at LLWS

GENARO C. ARMAS - AP Sports Writer
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Hamamatsu City, Japan third baseman Takuya Okamoto cannot reach a hit by Langley, British Columbia's Nick Atkinson during the first inning of a baseball game at the Little League World Series, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011, in South Williamsport, Pa. Hamamatsu City, Japan won 4-0. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pennsylvania (AP) — Japan has moved one step closer to defending its title at the Little League World Series.

Hamamatsu City starter Shoto Totsuka combined with relievers Hiroyasu Sugiura and Takuya Okamoto to five-hit Langley, British Columbia in a 4-0 win Tuesday. Japan moves on to play either Mexico or Venezuela on Thursday.

A team from Tokyo won the World Series last year.

The central Pennsylvania favorites from the Keystone Little League beat Warner Robins from Georgia 7-5 in the night match, with many of the 32,000-plus in attendance driving the 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Clinton County to watch their team.

Earlier, Cumberland, Rhode Island, had a 8-7 win over the Netherlands in a consolation game after Colin Cannata scored on an error in the bottom of the sixth.

An earthquake centered in Virginia briefly rattled Lamade Stadium but play never stopped. A Little League official said the venue was deemed safe after a structural engineer's inspection.

Japan initially had trouble adjusting to Canada starter Cole Cantelon at the plate, managing just a walk over two innings, but finally got the bats going in the third.

Second baseman Ken Igeta had an RBI double to start the scoring in the three-run third, and catcher Asuya Otsuka added an RBI triple.

Shoto Totsuka struck out four over two innings before giving way to relievers Hiroyasu Sugiura and Takuya Okamoto.

"It was a very fast fastball, but his location and his tempo were hard to time," Sigiura said of Cantelon.

Nick Atkinson led Canada with three hits, while Yi Fan Pan added two singles. Cantelon gave up four runs and six hits in 4 2-3 innings, and coach Jason Andrews said his starter pitched well except for losing control of his curveball in the middle of the game.

"We lost to the defending champs 4-0. We held our own," 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.

In the night match, Brandon Miller got the offense going again with a leadoff single before coming around to score on Landon Breon's two-run single. Miller, Pennsylvania's 12-year-old sparkplug, finished the scoring in the frantic first with an RBI infield single.

Georgia had the winning run at the plate with two runners on with two outs in the sixth, but reliever Tyler McCloskey snared a bouncer to the mound to end the game.

Georgia shortstop Jake Fromm's two-run homer to center sliced the deficit to 7-5 in the fourth. Fromm also made several sparkling defensive plays, including a diving catch in the hole to save an RBI single.

But the first inning proved to be too much for Georgia to overcome.

"The first inning we could have played a lot better defense. I don't know if it was the crowd or what, but we couldn't make a play in that first inning," Georgia manager Phillip Johnson said. "That ended up being the difference in the game."