SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — Taiwan will face Curacao on Saturday to see which team will represent the international bracket in the Little League World Series championship, after Taiwan cruised to the tournament semifinal and Curacao managed to get through with just one loss.
Taiwan is looking to make its 21st appearance in the Little League World Series championship on Sunday.
Here’s more about the matchup.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
Taiwan has yet to lose in the LLWS this year and has only allowed one run through the three games it’s played. The team representing the Asia-Pacific region has been rolling over its opponents, scoring 25 total runs, and beat Curacao 9-1 on Wednesday to move on to the semifinals. Taiwan’s ace is Fan Chen-Jun, who has yet to allow a hit this tournament, was clocked at 81 mph on the mound and hit a home run against Canada.
Curacao, meanwhile, is looking for revenge following a blowout loss to the Taiwanese. After representing the international side in last year’s Little League World Series championship, Curacao has its eyes set on a repeat, which means beating Taiwan in a winner-take-all game.
Curacao had to knock off Mexico in the loser’s bracket to get another shot at Taiwan, and did so in a 4-2 win.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
The main player to watch will be Fan. The 12-year-old pitcher throws 81 mph on the mound and has yet to allow a hit in Williamsport. He also was intentionally walked against Japan and hit a line-drive home run against Canada in that 6-0 perfect game.
Taiwan has hitters up and down the lineup. Catcher Chen Kai-Sheng had two RBIs against Curacao to get that victory rolling.
Curacao’s big hitter is Jay-Dlynn Wiel. Jay-Dlynn scored the only run against Taiwan in the tournament on a solo shot. He’s also one of Curacao’s best pitchers, too, but he didn’t throw well against Taiwan and walked two batters.
Taiwan was once a powerhouse at the LLWS. Between 1969 and 1996, the Taiwanese won 17 championships, but they have not won it all since. Taiwan last appeared in the tournament final in 2009.
Curacao has five returning players from last year’s team that lost 13-3 in the championship to Hawaii. The Caribbean region’s representative won the tournament in 2004, and not only appeared in the final last year but also in 2019 and 2005.
Spencer Ripchik is a student in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State.
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Spencer Ripchik, The Associated Press