"That was vital to get back that quickly," Manager Pratto said. "[Coach] Jose Martinez said, 'We're even, guys. OK, it's a three-inning ballgame now. It's 0-0 and we play three innings to win.' And that's what we did."
Huntington Beach did what it had to do the entire week it was here. The team outscored its first two opponents, 21-0. But then came a dramatic 1-0 loss in seven innings to Montana, meaning it had to defeat the hometown favorites from Clinton County, Pa., before a crowd of well over 30,000 in an elimination game.
They did that on Thursday, 2-0. Then came a rout in a rematch against Montana, an 11-2 win on Saturday.
Which led to some waiting on Sunday. In anticipation of storms related to Hurricane Irene, Little League officials moved the start time of the championship game up three hours, to 9 a.m. PDT. But their forecast was off and the first pitch didn't come until 12:40 p.m. after a morning full of rain.
Akihiro Suzuki, Japan's manager, said the delays and the wet conditions at the start of the game seemed to bother his team. But Pratto said the disruption didn't faze his team a bit.
"We're a pretty loose bunch," Pratto said. "We were towel-snapping each other when we were getting our uniforms on. Our local chaperons said they never saw a team as loose as us."
At that, Salzman the survivor giggled. He agreed.
Times staff writer Mike Hiserman contributed to this report from Los Angeles.