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El Segundo kids host team from Japan for game of baseball

April 13, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Young ballplayers and their parents turned their disappointment into an act of international good will when they invited a team from quake-stricken Japan to Southern California to play some baseball and take in the sights.

The Tokyo Kitasuna Little League championship team was able to make the trip to Los Angeles with the help of the Beach City Baseball Academy.

The kids played their first game Wednesday night in El Segundo.

The Beach City boys were set to go to Japan over spring break for a special baseball exchange, but the trip was canceled due to the deadly earthquake and tsunami.

"We had planned this for a year, all the kids were excited," said Richard Murad of the academy. "They were taking Japanese lessons in preparation and we were ready to go."

The players decided to turn the tragedy into a life-changing experience in Tokyo.

They transferred their airline tickets and offered their homes to the team.

"It's been a really fun experience," said 10-year-old ball player Matthew Farrow. "I was a little nervous at first about the language, but we've been going on pretty well."

Eighteen kids, five coaches, two team moms and an umpire made the trip from Japan.

They're playing 12 games over four days, culminating in a championship game Sunday.

The boys from Japan won the first game 7-1.

Daichi Koshika, 12, said through an interpreter that it was an important experience for him and he'd like to keep it as a good memory.

While the kids did not share a language, they understood each other on the baseball field.