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Georgia wins World Series

With a 2-1 victory over Japan, the team from Columbus gives the United States the title for the second straight year.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published August 29, 2006


SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - Cody Walker hit a two-run homer and Kyle Carter struck out 11 as Columbus, Ga., beat Kawaguchi City, Japan, 2-1 on Monday, giving an American team the Little League World Series title for the second straight year.

"It feels great," said Walker, whose team beat Dunedin in the Southeast Region final to reach Williamsport.

Columbus' victory came one year after Ewa Beach, Hawaii, beat a squad from Willemstad, Curacao, for the title. The United States hadn't won consecutive titles with different teams since 1982-83, when Kirkland, Wash., and Marietta, Ga., did so. The Marietta team was the only other club from Georgia to reach the tournament.

Long Beach, Calif., won in 1992 and 1993, though the first was awarded after a Philippines squad was disqualified for using over-age players.

Carter overcame a bout of wildness in the final inning, walking one and hitting another, to become the first pitcher to win four games in the World Series. Manager Randy Morris visited the mound but stuck with his ace.

"I didn't think he was losing it," Morris said. "I just went out to him to tell him to take a deep breath and don't let up."

With two runners on, he got Ryoya Sato to hit a weak bouncer to Josh Lester at second for the last out.

Kawaguchi City manager Shigeru Hidaka called Carter's performance "fantastic."

"His curveball was right on," he said through an interpreter.

The international champions took a 1-0 lead in the third. Seigo Yada, who hit four home runs in the tournament, singled to center. Pinch-hitter Yusuke Inuzuka missed on two bunts but advanced Yada with a slow grounder down the third-base line. Go Matsumoto, who struck out nine and walked two, followed with a high chopper up the middle that got through.

Columbus' rally in the bottom half was nearly thwarted by Carter's mistake on the bases. He took off from first on Lester's single to center but didn't heed Morris' stop sign at third and was thrown out. However, Walker followed with an opposite-field shot over the rightfield fence.

"All year, we have found a deep strength. When he hit the home run, I think we thought we would still win," Hidaka said. "We have come back before, and the kids thought we would come back again."

Lester said he watched Hawaii's title win a year ago, "but I didn't know what kind of team we'd have."

He, Walker and Carter ended up playing instrumental roles. After the game, the players put fistfuls of dirt in plastic bags as keepsakes.

Carter found his father, coach Richard Carter, and gave him a hug.

"He told me I did a great job," the 12-year-old left-hander said.

Rain forced the title game to be pushed back from Sunday, and organizers then moved the starting time ahead by three hours after forecasts showed another chance of rain in the evening.