The Eastlake Little League All-Stars from Chula Vista lost to the team representing Japan, 6-4, in the Little League World Series Championship Game at South Williamsport, Pa. today.
Platying for the Musashi Fuchu Little League of Tokyo, Ryusei Hirooka broke a 4-4 tie with a two-run double in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Eastlake had led 4-3 entering the fifth and next-to-final inning. Musashi Fuchu re-tied the score in the fifth on Shunpei Takagi's lead-off home run, his second of the game.
Eastlake took a 4-3 lead in the fourth when Giancarlo Cortez singled in Jake Espinoza, who singled, and Nick Mora, who was hit by a pitch.
Takagi's lead-off homer in the third gave Musashi Fuchu a 3-2 lead.
Both team had scored twice in the first.
Eastlake's lead-off hitter, Micah Pietila-Wiggs was hit by a pitch from Kazuki Ishida, moved to third on Espinoza's double and then scored on a passed ball by Hirooka, the Musashi Fuchu catcher. Grant Holman singled in Espinoza with the second run.
Musashi Fuchu, which won the coin toss and was the home team, combined two walks, a single by Takuma Gomi and an error by Espinoza, the Eastlake center fielder, for its two first-inning runs.
Eastlake, which had won 22 of its 23 games in five tournaments entering today's play, was seeking to become the third San Diego County team to win the Little League World Series, joining the 1961 team from the El Cajon-La Mesa Northern Little League, whose roster included future NFL quarterback Brian Sipe, and the 2009 team from Park View Little League in Chula Vista.
Two other San Diego County teams have made it to the Little League World Series Championship Game–squads representing the La Mesa Northern Little League in 1957 and El Cajon Western Little League in 1977. They both lost.
This was the fifth consecutive year a team from California or Japan has won the Little League World Series.
The city of Chula Vista has planned a free homecoming celebration for the Eastlake All-Stars to take place at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Sleep Train Ampitheatre.
Representing Mexico, Municipal de Tijuana Little League beat New England Sunday to win third place in the Little League World Series.
–City News Service contributed to this report.