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Kentucky, Japan reach final behind pitching

Zach Osborne and Yuuji Nakane dominate Louisville, Ky., and Netherlands Antilles.

©Associated Press
August 25, 2002

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Zach Osborne struck out 11 and had a run-scoring double to lead Louisville, Ky., to a 4-0 victory over Worcester, Mass., on Saturday in the U.S. championship of the Little League World Series.

Osborne's shot to centerfield scored the first of Louisville's four runs in the third.

Alex Hornbeck, who reached when catcher Ryan Griffin obstructed his path after a bunt, came home on Aaron Alvey's sacrifice fly. And Ethan Henry added a two-run homer to right.

Osborne had at least two strikeouts in each inning except the fifth, when the first two batters grounded out to the pitcher. He gave up just two hits and one walk, and no Worcester runner made it past first.

Louisville plays Sendai, Japan, tonight in the championship, the first time a Kentucky team has reached the title game.

Sendai beat Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, 4-1 in the international final.

Yuuji Nakane had eight of his 10 strikeouts in the last four innings. Japan is seeking its second straight title. Last year, Tokyo Kitasuna beat Apopka 2-1 in the championship.

Nakane pitched a three-hitter and scored the first run on an error after drawing a walk. Satoru Mizukoshi later scored on a wild pitch by Reinius Roosberg, who also allowed three hits.

Numakura's run-scoring single to leftfield made it 3-0, and he later came home on a passed ball.

Rudney Balentien scored the only run for Curacao -- the first given up by the Japan in the series. He reached on an infield single in the second and scored on Richently Kenepa's double.

Curacao failed to advance a runner past first base after that, with Nakane striking out two in each of the last four innings.

Curacao had a chance to score in the first, when Steve Van Delden hit a looping leadoff single to rightfield then advanced on a sacrifice and an infield error. But he was tagged out at the plate by Numakura trying to come home on a double steal.

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