SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — Since the Little League World Series expanded to 16 teams back in 2001, there hasn't been a championship that featured two teams from the elimination bracket — until Sunday.
Louisiana, the first team to reach the championship after dropping its opener, will meet Curacao, which lost its second game of the tournament to South Korea. A Little League title is on the line.
STORY SO FAR: In a drama-filled international championship, Curacao edged Japan 5-4 to reach just its third Little League championship, thanks to the performances of Curley Martha and Shendrion Martinus.
Curley's two-run homer in the fifth gave the Willemstad team just enough run support to get past the Japanese. Shendrion hit a two-run double in the third.
Together, Curley and Shendrion held Japan in check on the mound, allowing just five hits in the game and striking out six.
On the U.S. side, Louisiana got its revenge on Hawaii after losing 5-2 to the Maui team in their opening game. The club from River Ridge scored five runs in the fifth and four more in the sixth to win 9-5 on Saturday.
Marshall Louque drove in four runs in the victory, and William Andrade pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings.
WHO TO WATCH: Louisiana outfielder Reece Roussel broke the tournament record for hits with his two-run single in the sixth inning. He is 15 for 20 at the plate in South Williamsport.
Curley has nine hits in 16 plate appearances for Curacao, including three homers. He'll have to play in the field Sunday, because his pitch count is too high to take the mound again.
DID YOU KNOW: This will be the third time a team from Curacao will play in the Little League World Series championship. The only time a group from Curacao won the tournament was in 2004, when Oakland A's infielder Jurickson Profar was a member of the team. Profar's youngest brother, Jurdrick, is a part of this year's team from Willemstad and has a chance to achieve what his older brother did 15 years ago. Louisiana has never been to the title game before.