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Tokyo 10, Maracaibo, Venezuela 0

August 21, 2000

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) _ The 10-0 victory and his pitcher’s 12-strikeout performance didn’t faze Japanese manager Masumi Ohmae.

With a smile on his face, Ohmae _ speaking through interpreter Bill Lundy _ looked to pitcher Leo Nakayama and called it, ``the worst game I’ve ever seen him pitch. He had no confidence when we started. He threw a couple of wild balls.″

Funny, Nakayama agreed, reflecting back on the five walks and one hit he gave up through the first two innings.

Nakayama, however, settled into a dominating groove, leading Musashi Fucho Tokyo to a 10-0 victory over Sierra Maestra-Maracaibo, Venezuela, on Sunday in the 54th Little League World Series opener.

Allowing only two hits while walking six, Nakayama recorded the game’s first 11 outs by strikeout before Elvis Leon grounded out to third base with two outs in the fourth inning. Nakayama also had three hits, one a towering home run to left-center to lead off the fourth, and scored four runs.

It was his bat, Nakayama said, that bolstered his confidence.

Referring to his homer that measured an estimated 265 feet, Nakayama said he knew the ball was gone the minute it left his bat.

U.S. South entry Bellaire, Texas, faced U.S. East’s Goffstown, N.H., in the second game of the day. All eight teams will compete Monday.

It was a big win for Tokyo, which is attempting to defend the nation’s title after Osaka, Japan, beat Phenix City, Ala., in last year’s championship game.

``There was a lot of pressure coming into this first game, having won last year,″ Ohmae said. ``Moving forward, it’s great to win the first game. ... It relieves some pressure now that we’re in the driver’s seat.″

Tokyo’s victory was called after the fifth inning due to Little League’s 10-run rule when the Far East team scored twice to go up 10-0, and Maracaibo failed to score in the bottom half of the inning.

Taking advantage of four errors and six walks, Tokyo broke the game open with a four-run second inning to build a 6-0 lead. Tomoya Fujisaki scored on a walk to put Japan up 3-0. Then, Daiki Ichimura scored on an error, Yuusaku Nakanishi singled to drive in Nakayama and Kazuma Yamada scored on an error.

In all, Tokyo scored its first six runs on two hits and three Venezuelan errors.

Tokyo added two more runs in fourth and fifth innings.

Nakanishi and Yamada each drove in two runs each for Tokyo, which sent eight men to the plate in three of the first four innings.

Maracaibo manager Eduvino Quevedo was disappointed but hopeful that his team can bounce back.

``The fact that they started out bad isn’t going to hurt his confidence,″ interpreter Micah Hughes said, speaking for Quevedo. ``They’re just kids, they’re just 12 years old, they’re going to bounce back.″

Ruben Mavarez and Manuel Castellano had the lone hits _ both singles _ for Maracaibo.

Starting pitcher Marcel Prado struggled, giving up six runs _ two earned _ on one hit and four walks, leaving the game with one out in the second inning.

The Sierra Maestra-Maracaibo squad is the first Venezuelan representative to reach the Little League World Series since Coquivacoa-Maracaibo won the title in 1994. All nine Venezuelan entries at the Little League World Series have been from Maracaibo.


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