- Associated Press - Thursday, August 21, 2014

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) - Japan picked a perfect time to find its power stroke.

Suguru Kanamori homered twice and Ren Takeuchi also had a big day, helping Japan beat Mexico 12-1 on Thursday to advance to the international championship of the Little League World Series.

Hayato Ueshima had a leadoff drive for Japan’s first homer of the tournament, and Kanamori also went deep in the first. Kanamori added a three-run shot in the fifth, giving Japan the mercy-rule victory.

Ueshima, who raced around the bases with a wide smile on his face, said he doesn’t hit home runs often.

“To hit a home run, and it was the team’s first of the tournament … I’m very happy about that,” Ueshima said.

Japan will play South Korea for the title on Saturday. It lost 4-2 to South Korea on Wednesday.

“I’m looking forward to that game,” Japanese manager Junji Hidaka said.

Takeuchi allowed one hit, Juan Garza’s leadoff homer in the first, in 3 2-3 innings. He also went 2 for 3 with three RBIs in the five-inning game.

Takeuchi said he made a mistake on his first batter, and credited his teammates for scoring in the bottom of the first and relieving him of any added pressure.

“We gained momentum,” Takeuchi said. “I thank my teammates, and I could make sure my pitching was what I wanted afterward.”

Mexico committed five errors.

“We knew that we had to play perfect against Japan. We couldn’t do it,” manager Hector Arrieta said. “It was hard to come back from that.”

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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