California has the world’s-best Little League team
August 30, 2009
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – California came up big late to win the Little League World Series.
Bulla Graft’s sharp single scored the go-ahead run in the fourth inning and Kiko Garcia pitched three-plus scoreless innings of relief to lead Chula Vista to a 6-3 victory over Taoyuan, Taiwan to take the tournament title.
With the U.S.-partisan crowd on their feet, Garcia closed out the victory by striking out Yu Chieh Kao. The California fans yelled “USA! USA.”
The teams shook hands before California celebrated, then invited Taiwan to accompany them on the customary victory lap around Lamade Stadium on a sun-splashed afternoon.
They celebrated the United States’ fifth straight Little League championship.
The latest win looked in doubt early. Wen Hua Sung and Chin Ou hit back-to-back homers in the third to give Taiwan a 3-0 lead.
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California scored a run in the third before surging ahead in the fourth. Seth Godfrey drove in a run on a sacrifice fly before Nick Conlin scored on a wild pitch.
Even Vice President Joe Biden, who attended the game, was impressed, standing and clapping as his three granddaughters looked on.
Later, Taiwan walked slugger Luke Ramirez with two outs to bring up Graft. The 12-year-old second baseman hit a 1-1 pitch to right to score Andy Rios from third.
California added two runs in the fifth, more than enough cushion for Garcia.
The boys threw their gloves high in the air after Kao struck out, then gathered near the mound and fell into a pile on the ground.