ABERDEEN - Just two outs away from sealing a 6-2 win over the Republic of Korea in Saturday night's International Championship contest at the Cal Ripken World Series, the returning world champs from Japan surrendered four runs, allowing Korea to tie the contest up, 6-6, and force the game into the bottom of the sixth inning.
Japan, however, was able to capitalize on some Korean miscues, as Kato Yoshida, who rapped a leadoff single, took second on a balk, then scored the game-winning run on back-to-back wild pitches, sending the defending champs to a 7-6 win and their second straight International Championship at the World Series.
With the win, Japan moves on to Sunday's title game, where it will play the U.S. champs from Upper Montgomery, Md., who beat Bronx, N.Y., 2-1, earlier in the day. Sunday's World Championship game at Cal Sr.'s Yard begins at 2 p.m.
Korea kicked off Saturday night's international contest with a two-run rally in the top of the first, but Japan plated one in the home half of the inning, then took the lead with a pair of runs in the second.
The Japanese offense came up with three more tallies in the third to run up a 6-2 lead, before the Korean team rallied in the top of the sixth to tie.
Japan's Tomoya Koike was 2-for-3 with one RBI and a team-best two runs scored.
Picking up the win for Japan was reliever Hiroki Matsumoto, who tossed 3-2/3 innings in which he held Korea to a pair of unearned runs on one hit, struck three and walked one.
Leading Korea at the plate was Jun Young Ha, who was 1-for-3 with a double, two RBIs and one run scored.