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Power Hitters, Pitchers Shine in Williamsport

The Season - GameChanger - Power Hitters Little League Baseball and Softball

More than ever before, the 69th version of the Little League World Series was about power. When Gerardo Lujano and Raul Leon from Mexicali, Mexico homered in the bottom of the first inning of Sunday’s third-place game, they helped tie and then set a record for most collective home runs in one series with 79.

The sluggers were not finished yet.

There were two more home runs before the third-place game was over, then Kitasuna of Tokyo hit five of the seven homers in the world championship game for an 18-11 victory over Red Land, Pennsylvania.

When it was all over, the total was 86 home runs in 32 games. That was eight more than any previous series.

Power is not just evident when hitters win the one-on-one battles. It is also part of the equation in high strikeout totals.

Pitchers combined for 582 strikeouts in 363 1/3 innings, getting 53.4 percent of World Series outs by strikeout. By comparison, in Major League Baseball, about 28 percent of outs are recorded by strikeout.

That difference is even greater than the home run rate. At the Little League World Series, 20.2 percent of all hits were home runs, compared to about 13.4 percent in MLB.

There were seven hitters who produced at least three home runs and nine pitchers with at least 15 strikeouts in Williamsport.

Cole Wagner, Red Land’s big left-hander, is the only player to appear on both of those lists. Wagner shared the home run lead at four with Mexicali’s Leon and Kitasuna’s Shingo Tomita. He had 21 strikeouts, second only to Kitasuna’s Kabu Kikuchi.

Pitchers' Fielding Practice - Read It Now

Wei Hung Chou from Taipei City, Chinese Taipei, the Asia-Pacific champion, was third with 18 strikeouts.

Ben Gottfried and Jarrett Tadlock helped Pearland West, the Southwest Region champ from Texas, finish in third place overall while recording 17 strikeouts each.

Mexicali’s Armando Verdugo, who no-hit eventual champion Kitasuna for six innings of Saturday’s international final, and teammate Daniel Zaragoza each struck out 16.

Alex Edmondson from Northwood, the Southeast team from Taylors, South Carolina, and Eli Burwash from Wilshire-Riverside, the Northwest team from Portland, Oregon, each had 15 strikeouts.

Edmondson got his 15 strikeouts in one outing, a no-hitter to start the tournament, which was his second straight dating back to the region final. He also hit two homers in three games, making him a threat to have joined Wagner on both lists if his team had hung around longer.

Four players, including Kitasuna’s Kengo Tomita, finished with three home runs each.

Teammates Dante Schmid, Levi Mendez and Walker Lannom each had three to help make Sweetwater Valley, West champion from Bonita, California, the team home run leader with 15 in five games. Sweetwater Valley finished third in the United States in an eighth-inning loss to Pearland West.

Mexicali led in team strikeouts with 55 while finishing in fourth place.

Some other individual statistical highlights from 32 games over 10 days:

Leon led the tournament in hits and RBI with 11 of each.

Nate Nankil from Sweetwater Valley scored 10 runs.

Red Land’s Jaden Henline was the only pitcher to win three games. He figured in every Red Land decision, going 3-1 with a save.

Nobuyuki Kawashima, the winning pitcher in the world final, had a perfect 0.00 earned run average in nine innings.

View all Little League World Series stats here.

From GameChanger and Tom Robinson, a freelance reporter for Red Line Editorial, Inc. Photo courtesy of Little League Baseball and Softball.