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Weekend Games Will Decide Little League World Champions

NOEL KING, HOST:

The Major League World Series is still a few weeks away, but the Little League World Series is happening now in South Williamsport, Pa. There are teams of kids from around the country and around the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED SPORTSCASTER #1: One across, and the other down three.

UNIDENTIFIED SPORTSCASTER #2: Noah Culpeper, center field.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED SPORTSCASTER #2: And there it is. Hawaii will advance to the United States championship game.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

That's the sound there of Hawaii's Central East Maui team advancing after a win on Wednesday. ESPN is broadcasting these games. On Saturday, Hawaii's team will face off against the winner of a contest between Louisiana and Virginia for the overall U.S. title.

KING: And the Little League World Series is a global competition. So the U.S. champion will play the winners of the international bracket on Sunday. Here's ESPN announcer Karl Ravech.

KARL RAVECH: I think Hawaii and Japan win the United States and international titles on Saturday. And then Sunday, I think you have a great game between Japan and Hawaii. That's a toss-up game.

GREENE: Now, the Little League World Series always features the best of the best young players. But Ravech says this year's athletes are truly exceptional, and he is one who should know. He's been announcing these games for 15 years.

RAVECH: The baseball IQ of these kids has never been higher. These kids are thinking at a level that I haven't seen in my years covering the event.

KING: And there's been this change in the rules, which means that there aren't any teenagers playing this year. Ravech says that means fewer home runs. But in a lot of ways, it also means better games.

RAVECH: You follow major league baseball this season, there are going to be a record number of home runs hit. At the Little League level, because the kids are 10, 11 and 12, there are way fewer home runs being hit than we've had before. And I think the brand of baseball appeals to more people who grew up playing baseball, whether it be at the Little League or in your backyard. You pitch it, you hit it and you have to catch it.

GREENE: The basics. Those skills will all be on display at the championship games this weekend. Good luck out there. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.