Georgia, Japan advance to finals

Published August 25, 2006

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - His white pants covered in dirt, Josh Lester adjusted his slightly oversized helmet, and clapped his hands after reaching third base.

A well-deserved break for the 12-year-old from Columbus, Ga. He came up with two clutch extra-base hits Thursday night to send his team to the U.S. title game of the Little League World Series.

Lester tripled with the bases loaded in the second inning and doubled in two more runs in the fourth in Columbus' 8-0 win over Portsmouth, N.H.

Both hits came after Portsmouth intentionally walked slugger Kyle Carter to get to Lester.

Carter was pretty good himself on the mound, striking out eight and walking one, for the Columbus Northern league team (3-1). Columbus Northern, which beat Dunedin to win the Southeast Region bracket, faces Beaverton, Ore., on Saturday.

The winner advances to the World Series championship game Sunday.

JAPAN 4, SAUDI ARABIA 1: Saturday's international title game is set after Kawaguchi City defeated Dhahran. Japan plays Mexico.

Japan's Ryoya Sato tormented the team from Saudi Arabia on the mound and at the plate.

The left-hander frustrated batters with his breaking ball and added a key two-run homer in the sixth inning. He also drove in two runs in the fourth with a single and homered to straightaway center to add a couple of insurance runs for Japan (4-0).

"I was fortunate I was able to hit a curveball at the right time," the 12-year-old said through an interpreter.