SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. . -- After Mexico defeated Connecticut by a run in the Little League World Series consolation game, the teams shook hands and departed, sad they hadnt made it another game but satisfied with what they achieved. "Well reflect on this for sure," said Tim Rogers, manager of Westport, Conn. "I could not be more proud of the kids. They proved that they belong here, playing baseball right at the top of the world. Look how competitive they are. For them to stick with it, work, work, work, thats more important." Brandon Montes, Ramon Mendoza, Saul Favela, and Miguel Artalejo hit home runs for Mexico, which beat Connecticut 15-14. Mexicos World Series run ended with a 3-2 loss Saturday to Japan for the international title. Chad Knight slammed two home runs and drove in seven runs in the game, which featured a World Series-record nine home runs. Harry Azadian had a three-run homer and Matt Brown and Matt Stone had solo shots for Connecticut, which lost 12-1 to Chula Vista, Calif., in the U.S. title game on Saturday. Connecticut fell behind 11-6 heading to the fifth inning after Favelas home run keyed a three-run Mexico rally in the fourth. Undaunted as they had been the entire tournament, the New England champions promptly scored five runs in the top of the fifth to tie it, with Azadian hitting a three-run homer and Stone following with his homer. "They dont give up," said Rogers, who didnt know how he would adjust once he returned home. "Sure, we would have liked to have won, but the way they battled, were feeling good." The game ended an emotion-packed week for both teams, but they put on a real show in their final act. "All the people in Tijuana should be proud," Mexico manager Francisco Fimbres said. "This is the first time for the league here at the World Series. Im very proud of my kids." And why not. Mexico overcame two losses to Japan and finished third in the world. "Its exciting because a lot of teams in the world wish they could be here," Martin Gonzalez said. "Third place for us is pretty amazing." Mexico won this one with four runs in the bottom of the fifth, keyed by Artalejos three-run homer. It was just enough because Knight hit a three-run shot with two outs in the top of the sixth. Fimbres had to play the role of father before the game as Montes began crying during warm-ups, his base-running blunder against Japan on Saturday too hard to forget. "Yesterday, he was very sad," Fimbres said. "Its a hard thing to come back from. Its hard for him to come back that fast, but hes doing better now. Yesterday, he felt guilty, but he bounced back. Hes one of the greatest players that we saw." Montes slammed his fifth homer of the World Series, a drive that easily carried the centre-field wall in the second inning against Connecticut. Hes the fifth player in Little League World Series history to hit five home runs. The record is seven, set in 1996 by Chin-Hsiung Hsieh of Taiwan. Both teams departed Lamade Stadium with memories that surely will last a lifetime. Torched for 10 runs in an inning by Sammamish, Wash., on Friday, Connecticut rallied with seven runs an inning later, tying it at 13 on Knights home run. Max Popken, Ricky Offenberg, Alex Reiner, and Tatin Llamas also homered in a riveting 14-13 victory, won by Knight with a single in the seventh inning. The Connecticut players can only imagine what might have been -- they had a chance to beat eventual U.S. champion Chula Vista, Calif., on Wednesday night and failed. Brown hit a three-run homer for Westport, and the Northeast champions seemed headed for a big victory. But Californias Nick Mora hit his second homer of the game to make it 3-2 with one out in the top of the sixth and Chula Vista tied it when Reiner threw a wild pitch with the bases loaded. Chula Vista won 6-3 on Grant Holmans three-run homer in the ninth inning. Theres a parade back home in Connecticut on Monday and school beckons on Tuesday. Time to move on. "Itll be hard. Itll be a little rocky, but well figure it out," Rogers said. "I knew that we were a good team and had a chance to have a good summer. To get here to compete, thats amazing." Mexico had its moments, too, beating its first two opponents handily with a barrage of home runs. But Tijuana couldnt overcome the efficient Tokyo team, losing 5-2 on Wednesday and 3-2 in the heart-wrenching international championship game on Saturday. With the score tied at 2, Montes had led off the bottom of the fifth for Mexico with a double down the left-field line and was at third with one out when Favela hit a high fly to deep centre. Montes took a few steps toward home, stopped, and didnt have time to go back and tag up. He was stranded at third when Brandon Meza struck out. When Takuma Gomi led off the top of the sixth inning with a game-winning home run, Tijuana, too, was left to wonder what might have been. . -- Wes Welker is unlikely to suit up for Denvers game Thursday against San Diego after leaving Sundays win over Tennessee with his second concussion in four games. .Y. - Brooklyn Nets centre Brook Lopez has a strained lower back and will miss at least a week.NEW YORK, N.Y. - Geno Smith still thinks of himself as the New York Jets starting quarterback. Until hes told otherwise. Smiths up-and-down rookie season ended with four solid games as the Jets finished 8-8, but out of the playoffs. Both coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik have said that while Smith improved greatly, they will wait until they see whos on the roster in a few months before considering their starters at any position. "It motivates me," Smith told The Associated Press on Friday. "I know Rex, and he knows how to push my buttons. Im definitely going to go into this season as I always do: with a chip on my shoulder with that edge." Smith was in midtown Manhattan serving fans from an ice cream truck as part of a promotional event for New Era caps — a few hours after Ryan did the same. Smith, who had 12 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions, is expected to be in the quarterback mix whether the Jets sign a veteran or draft someone to compete with him. But, it appears he didnt do enough for the Jets to anoint him the starter as they head into the off-season. "Ive gotten better, but Ive got a long ways to go," Smith acknowledged. "Ive got to continue to progress and Im going to take this year just as I took last year, and thats to try to get better every single day." Smith declined to comment on his recent off-field issues, which included a disagreement with a flight attendant at Los Angeles International airport, for which Virgin America airline later apologized. "Nah, were not talking about that stuff,," he said. . Taking a quick break from handing out ice cream cones on Super Bowl Boulevard in Times Square, Smith talked about how much he enjoyed seeing the area jam-packed with football fans getting ready for the NFLs biggest game Sunday at MetLife Stadium. It also reminded him of his ultimate goal on the field. "Just being here and being around this atmosphere has definitely made me even more hungry," he said. "Just to get into this position has been something Ive been longing for my entire life, so I just want to work toward it." Smith started all 16 games for the Jets after claiming the job once Mark Sanchez went down for the season with a shoulder injury in the preseason. There were flashes from Smith at times, particularly with four winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime of the Jets first seven games. But there were also troubling stretches, such as the seven-game stretch midway through the season in which he had one touchdown pass and 11 interceptions. While Smith insisted "I dont do grades," he said he learned a lot on the job — a crash course in life in the NFL that not many rookie quarterbacks get to experience. "It was very valuable, man," Smith said. "Not only from the standpoint of being on the field, but off the field. All the emotions I had to go through and all the good and bad things I had to go through, and ultimately, it strengthened me. "It made me a better player and made me a better person off the field." ___ AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org ' ' '