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Weekly Webb Gem:

By Brett R. Crossley
Top Little League World Series Games from 2016


We are just a day or two away from the start of the 2017 Little League World Series.
The annual Tournament will be highlighted by upsets, top defensive plays, and — as always — monster home runs that send fans running head first into the bushes along the outfield fences.
Before we dive too far into this year’s tournament, let’s take a look back at last year and see one more time what made the 2016 version so good. Here are my top games from last year.
Canada 10, Japan 4
Many predictors had this game being the first of many Japan victories on the way to another championship appearance. Canada scored two runs in the first inning. Another two in the third helped it secure one of the biggest opening rounds wins in the tournament’s history.
It was the first time in 51 years of the Little League World Series that Japan fell in an opening round game. Canada’s Loreto Siniscalchi, who struck out 13 in the process of picking up the win, belted a home run and finished 2-for-4 from the plate.
He followed a lead-off single from Antonio Cusati with a single of his own to help Canada take a 2-0 lead on Japan. In the third, he reached on a fielder’s choice but made the most of his time on base to score a run. In the sixth he took care of everything on his own, crushing a home run for Canada’s tenth run of the game.
It was a sensational upset that made fans of the U.S. teams and bracket take notice of the International scene. Volunteer Stadium’s outside perimeter of was swarmed by fans wanting to witness the historic upset.
Caribbean 2, Japan 1
The surprises and upsets continued for Japan, who was eliminated during its next game against the Caribbean.
Donovan Antonio played the hero with a home run in the fourth to tie Japan at 1-1. In the fifth, Nair Jamanika drove in the game-winning run to hand Japan its first set of back-to-back losses since the Series started.
The game opened with three innings of outstanding pitching as Jadon Gosepa kept one of the most intimidating offenses of the tournament at bay. Gosepa gave up a run in the fourth when So Hirao homered over the right-center fence. He came back to register two more strikeouts before Gedionne Marlin entered in the sixth to record the final three outs of the game.
Asia-Pacific 3, Caribbean 0
The Caribbean’s journey to handing Japan its earliest exit from the Little League World Series started bumpy as a 3-0 loss to the eventual International Champion Asia-Pacific opened the second day of competition.
It was a special game for both teams. It showed that the Asia-Pacific bracket was here to play. It also showed that the Caribbean team was going to be better than most expected.
It was a sign of the Asia-Pacific’s dominance in the Series, but it also highlighted the fact the rest of the International community was catching up. Jungtaek Ru and Seum Kwon opened the game with consecutive walks. A hit batter and another walk mixed with some nifty base running helped give Asia-Pacific a two-run lead.
The mumbles of a possible blowout started to get louder after the opening inning, but that’s when Jurrangelo Cijntje reared back to keep the Asia-Pacific off the board until the final inning.
Cijntie, who appeared to let his nerves get the better of him in the first inning, tossed a gem the rest of the way, fanning six batters and scattering one hit, but walking four batters and hitting three.
The Caribbean, which struggled offensively throughout the tournament, recorded its first hit in the third when Cijntie laced a single through the infield. Yoomin Lee was the reason the Caribbean struggled offensively. He struck out nine batters in four innings of work. He also gave up just one hit to help his team pick up the shutout.
Latin America 3, Asia-Pacific 2
The International bracket continued to provide excitement with two meetings between Latin America and Asia-Pacific.
The budding rivalry was highlighted by one of the tournament’s best games that saw Latin America, led by Esmith Pineda’s towering three-run shot in the sixth inning, defeat Asia-Pacific, 3-2.
The upset was even more special after Jungtaek Ru and Seum Kwon scored in the fourth to give Asia-Pacific a 2-0 lead. After the runs, it appeared Asia-Pacific would be able to end the game behind a strong pitching performance from Jaekyeong Kim and Junho Jeong.
The pair, backed by a solid defense, limited Latin America to just six base runners in four innings. Kim finished with seven strikeouts over that stretch but was finally pulled in the fifth when Latin American started to hit him. Latin America scored all of its runs in the fifth inning with Pineda making a lifelong memory with a three-run shot to seal the win.
The two teams met again to determine the International Champion. A much more focused Asia-Pacific won 7-2.
Mid-Atlantic 2, Asia-Pacific 1
The International teams had a hold on Championships as the Mid-Atlantic and Asia-Pacific prepared to meet for the 2016 Little League World Series Championship.
The team from Endwell, New York ended the International bracket’s reign at the top with a 2-1 win. It also gave New York its first championship since 1965.
Offensively, it was a game of one complete inning as the Mid-Atlantic representative scored two in the fourth thanks to a burst from Jude Abbadessa, Ryan Harlost, and Conner Rush. Abbadessa singled, Harlost followed with a double and Rush knocked in the game-winning run with a single into left field. Asia-Pacific scored a run in the fifth with a home run.
It was the completion of an outstanding run for the fan favorites that culminated with a long lap around the field with cheers raining down. Endwell was the cap to a perfect World Series that overcame a rainout and was highlighted by top performances.

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