Tokyo, Japan, manager Masumi Omae had a pretty simple idea for dealing with the Tijuana, Mexico, offense in their Little League Baseball World Series game Wednesday at Lamade Stadium.
Mexico pounded out 25 runs and 24 hits in two victories, mostly on what Omae saw on the television broadcasts were hitters jumping on fastballs. So the curves and changeups were in order, and it worked as Omae's Musashi Fuchu LL team won 5-2 to advance to Saturday's International final.
"We saw Mexico 10-run two teams, and there was definitely a lot of research watching their video and games," Omae said through an interpreter. "So we went with a different strategy and pitchers who'd throw offspeed."
Kazuki Ishida earned the victory, with an earned run, four hits and four strikeouts before leaving after three innings and 46 pitches. The planned move left him eligible for Saturday's International title game.
Ryutarro Takeo relieved, pitching three shutout innings with four strikeouts and just two base runners. He, too, is eligible for Saturday.
"We saw the research and they were kind of weak on hitting offspeed pitches," Takeo said through an interpreter. "So we went in with that mind-set."
Ishida allowed both Mexico runs, a second-inning Jorge Rodriguez double and a third-inning Brandon Montes home run. But he said he feels comfortable no matter what pitch he throws.
"I definitely have confidence in my fastball," Ishida said. "But my curveball drops 12 to 6, a lot, and I'm confident in that pitch as well."
Mexico manager Francisco Francisco Fimbres said Wednesday simply was a bad day, one he thought his players would put behind them. And while he credited the Japanese pitchers, he thought the lack of production was more of a Mexico issue.
"Japan, they handle their pitches well. They paint the corners, pitch low and they have a lot of breaking balls," Fimbres said through an interpreter. "But, their fastballs are down low. They're very good pitchers."
The Japanese staff has performed the best in the International field, which shouldn't surprise since the team has reached the International final. It has a 3.00 team ERA, with 23 strikeouts and five walks. It has allowed 12 hits and a .944 WHIP.
With every pitcher available for Saturday's game, Omae has plenty of options for either Mexico again or Latin America champ Aguadulce, Panama. He might want more offspeed pitches against Mexico, or he might not. Either way, it doesn't change Ishida's approach.
"Same old, same old. Nothing different," he said.