South Korea defeats Chicago 8-4 to win the Little League World Series
Hwang Jae-yeong and Jeon Jin-woo each drove in two runs
Japan posted a 5-0 victory over Las Vegas in the consolation game
South Korea held off a late rally by Chicago to win a third title in the Little League World Series.
Despite letting up three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, South Korea was able to seal the 8-4 victory. The country also won back-to-back titles in 1984 and 1985.
Hwang Jae-yeong and Jeon Jin-woo drove in two runs apiece and Choi Hae-chan hit a solo home run.
“We know the time difference and that a lot of people were cheering for us,” manager Jong Wook-park told The Associated Press. “We appreciate the people back in Korea. I told the kids that in a speech.”
Thanks to a four-run sixth inning, South Korea led 8-1 at one point. The Jackie Robinson West squad – composed entirely of young African-Americans – nearly staged an improbable rally at the end of the game.
“We’re the best team in the nation and the second best team in the world – you can’t have anything better than that,” Chicago pitcher and infielder Marquis Jackson told ESPN.
Chicago sealed its spot in the title game after topping Las Vegas in the U.S. title game on Saturday. The Jackie Robinson squad entered its own contest Saturday as the underdog – its foe, Las Vegas, had beaten every team it faced – including Chicago, which it crushed by a 13-2 score.
“The pride and joy of Illinois is our Jackie Robinson West JRW Little League team,” Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said.
Both of Chicago’s professional baseball teams tweeted in support of the JRW team, as did the Chicago Bulls and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“Thank you for inspiring our city with your positive attitude, spirit & success,” Emanuel tweeted. “You young men will forever be champions of Chicago.”
The boys from Chicago’s South Side also sent hearty congratulations from outside the Windy City, including ex-Chicago White Sox great and baseball Hall of Famer Frank Thomas and filmmaker Spike Lee.
The South Koreans advanced after crushing Japan 12-3 earlier Saturday.
In the consolation game, which was also played on Sunday, Japan beat Las Vegas 5-0.