SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – His team idled Monday night because of rain, Matthew Lang didn't waste a pitch when he got to the plate Tuesday.
Called on to pinch hit, the cheerful 13-year-old sent the first pitch he saw the opposite way for a homer to left-center to help keep Columbus, Ga., unbeaten at the Little League World Series with a 6-0 shutout of Hamilton, Ohio.
He's got something to boast about to his big brother, Ryan, who played on the Georgia team that won the 2006 title.
"Um, I just wanted to get my pitch, first pitch," said Lang, who smiled from cheek to cheek. "I was sitting fastball. It was fastball. ... I turned on it and hit it over."
His homer gave Georgia a 5-0 lead in the fourth, more than enough cushion for the stellar pitching of Troy Gilliland. He struck out six and tossed a five-hit shutout against a potent offense that had scored 16 runs in its previous game.
"Wow, you can't pitch any better than that," said Georgia manager Randy Morris, who also coached the 2006 team. "He probably didn't miss his spots three times all game."
In other games Tuesday, Toms River, N.J., shut out Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, 10-0 in a consolation game; Chitre, Panama, eliminated Vancouver, British Columbia, after a 4-2 win; Auburn, Wash., eliminated Fairfield, Conn., after a 9-5 victory; and Tokyo clinched a berth in Saturday's international final with a 3-2 win Tuesday night over Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
Kaname Shinozaki's solo homer in the fourth inning broke the tie and eliminate Mexico in one of the best games of the tournament. Japan turned aside two late threats, with the potential go-ahead run at the plate in the fifth and sixth.
With a runner on first in the sixth, Eduardo Mata just missed a game-winning homer after flying out to the right field warning track. Closer Ichiro Ogasawara ended the game with consecutive strikeouts.
"Because of Mexico's power, I wasn't trying to throw any easy balls," the 13-year-old lefty said. "I was really scared because I thought that ball was going out."
Enrique Penaloza and Puga each homered for Mexico, which was eliminated.
Gilliland escaped a potential jam in the fifth after when a runner was thrown out at third with nobody out, and he got a popup and flyout to end the inning. Georgia's bats came up big instead all game, with Kobie Buglioli and Blake Hicks also hitting homers.
There was a little intrigue later when Ohio manager Ken Coomer said his team had some trouble in Georgia's three-run first inning because Georgia was stealing signs.
Hicks, who doubled to lead off the game, admitted to giving his team an advantage — though he wasn't doing a good job of being discreet.
"It was pretty obvious," the 12-year-old catcher joked. "Might as well say, 'Hey, I'm giving the signs.'"
Panama's reward for avoiding elimination Tuesday is a game against the tournament's most dominating team so far — the sluggers from Kaoshiung, Taiwan, are next for the Latin America region champions following the win over Canada.
It's a daunting task to beat Taiwan, which has outscored opponents 41-0 over its first two games. Panama will have to beat them twice to get to the international finals Saturday.
Manager Cristobal Salerno displayed some Little League bravado.
"I think if we win the first game, they will crumble a little bit," Salerno said through interpreter Luis Sanchez. Luis Bazan struck out nine for Panama.
Although it was a consolation game, Toms River had something to play for anyway, and shut out Saudi Arabia.
"We knew the bus ride home would be a lot (more fun) with a win," 12-year-old shortstop Patrick Marinaccio said.
Kevin Blum homered, tripled twice and struck out eight, while Marinaccio also homered. Both boys went 3 for 4 and scored three runs.
His team up one, reliever Isaiah Hatch entered the game with one out in the fifth and runners on second and third and got a strikeout and groundout to end the threat after Connecticut had scored twice in the inning. Hatch padded the lead with a two-run homer to left in the sixth.