After winning a nine-inning game against Asia Pacific champ Taiwan on Sunday, some players on the Tokyo, Japan, team mentioned thinking about their two friends and former teammates that were in the stands cheering them on.
Go Akita and Yusuke Kojina have been in the stands during each of Japan's games during the Little League Baseball World Series. The two traveled to South Williamsport and said through an interpreter that they have "no regrets" about their decision.
Akita and Kojina played baseball with the players of the Japan team and wanted to be here to see them as they fight for the World Series championship.
Since Kojina is 13 years old, he is too old to play on the team but still is friends of the players. Akita said he did not join the league until late in the season so he was behind the learning curve to get on the team.
Both have been impressed with the Little League facilities in South Williamsport and would like to see large stadiums such as Lamade and Volunteer for the Japan Regional games.
"The experience here is so special (for us), as it is for everyone," Kojina said through an interpreter.
Kojina also pointed out that the two are seeing a different style of play, as well, here in the U.S.
"In Japan they hit a lot of home runs," Kojina said. "Pitching is much better (at the World Series)."
Kojina and Akita admit that during the time they're in the stands with the rest of the Japanese fans that they believe they are more nervous than the players on the team, as they nod their heads while laughing.
And when they heard the comments after the team's game against Taiwan that the team was thinking about them, it made the two boys happy to know that the players they root for each game wish they were with them.
"(We are) happy, thankful to hear (the) comment," Kojina said.
The players and fans interact when not playing. Kojina and Akita said during that time, they are able to just be kids. Neither the boys or players have to worry about the next opponent or striking out.
"They talk not serious talk," Kojina said.
Kojina said they are happy to be here, to experience the World Series but like all ball players, past and present, they would much rather be on the field than in the stands.
"I want to play, too," Akita said.