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California received a scare when Cortez was hit by a pitch in the helmet during the first inning and departed for a pinch-runner after being examined on the field. Ishida went over to shake Cortez’s hand and apologize, and Cortez returned to play his position when Chula Vista took the field for the first time.

Holman, who pitched a no-hitter in the World Series, hadn’t pitched since Wednesday and was shaky at the outset, walking two of the first three batters he faced and throwing a wild pitch as Japan quickly mounted a threat of its own and tied the score.

Takuma Gomi, whose dramatic solo home run in the top of the sixth had given Japan a 3-2 victory over Mexico in the international championship Saturday, lined an RBI single. A botched throw in from the outfield on the hit sailed wide of home plate, allowing Takagi, who had walked, to score the second run.

California escaped further damage when Kyousuke Kobayashi singled to center and Espinoza threw out Gomi at home.

The West champions mounted another threat in the second, loading the bases with two outs. But Holman struck out, waving his bat ever-so-slightly at a pitch that was low and outside and shaking his head in dismay at the call.

If Japan had a plan, it likely was to make the hard-throwing Holman work, and the tall right-hander did just that. When he struck out Sho Miyao looking to end the second inning, he had thrown 50 pitches. Not a good omen for the West champions with a maximum of 85 allowed and Nick Mora, the hero of Saturday’s win over Connecticut with a 10-strikeout, two-hit performance, ineligible to pitch.

Ishida wasn’t faring any better. After three innings he had thrown 69 pitches, struck out five, walked three, and hit three batters.

Japan took a 3-2 lead when Takagi led off the bottom of the third by slamming a home run over the right-field fence on an 0-1 pitch. A smile on his face, Takagi raised his right arm in triumph as he rounded the bases and was mobbed by his teammates after crossing the plate.

Holman avoided further damage by striking out pinch-hitter Tatsuki Nagano and getting pinch-hitter Seiya Nishino to ground out to first with two runners on. When he went to the dugout, Holman had only three pitches left to reach the maximum of 85 and was through on the mound for the day.

“We certainly expected to get more than three innings from Grant,” Tibbett said. “From the first inning, you could tell he was leaving pitches up. Once it took him 28 pitches to get through the first inning we knew somebody else would probably finish the game.”

The Japanese pitchers kept the hot-hitting Pietila-Wiggs off-balance at the plate, but after getting fooled by a pitch in the top of the fourth he laced a ground-rule double down the left-field line. Espinoza followed with a bloop single to left and took second on the throw in.

Ishida then hit Mora to load the bases, tying the World Series record for most hit batsmen in a game, and Keita Saito came on in relief.

Batting with the bases loaded, Holman, who hit a grand slam earlier in the World Series, grounded to third and Japan got the forceout at home for the first out.

A day earlier, Japan twice escaped big jams in the win over Mexico, once with the bases loaded and nobody out. This time it failed as Cortez laced a two-run single to left field for a 4-3 lead.

Ricky Tibbett relieved Holman in the fourth and retired the side in order, striking out two, as Chula Vista crept that much closer to the title.

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