Little League World Series: West Side falls to Taylor North in championship game

Hamilton team leaves 10 runners on base, including three in final inning

The first Ohio team to play in the Little League World Series championship game fell short of claiming the ultimate prize Sunday at Lamade Stadium in Williamsport, Pa.

West Side Little League, a team of 12-year-old all-stars from Hamilton, lost 5-2 to Taylor North Little League, the Michigan champion, in the final game of the 74th Little League World Series.

This was a rematch of the Great Lakes Regional championship, which Taylor North won 9-1 on Aug. 14 in Whitestown, Ind.

Taylor North became the first Michigan team to win the championship since Hamtramck in 1959.

Despite the loss, West Side won two more games in this tournament (5) than it had won in four previous trips (3) to the Little League World Series. West Side is now 8-10 all-time in the tournament.

“Congrats to Hamilton West Side on a great run!” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine wrote on Twitter. “You made the entire state proud!”

“Great run in the Little League World Series by the Ohio team from West Side Little League,” Ohio State basketball coach Chris Holtmann wrote on Twitter. “Proud of you, boys!”

Missed opportunities cost West Side, which left 10 runners on base. It loaded the bases in the sixth with two outs, bringing the tying runner to the plate. JJ Vogel then walked, bringing in West Side’s second run. But the game ended with a deep fly out to center by Chance Retherford.

West Side players applauded from the third-base line as Taylor North celebrated the championship.

West Side also loaded the bases with one out in the first inning, but Taylor North’s Ethan Van Belle, who walked two batters in the inning and gave up a single to Vogel, escaped the jam by getting an infield pop out and a strikeout.

“That was very important,” Taylor North coach Rick Thorning said. “Ethan was throwing a lot of pitches. I want to say he was close to 30. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but he threw a lot of pitches and to get out of that with no damage was great. I think that kind of set the tone a little bit. (West Side) was fighting today. They came to battle, and that’s what they were doing, so that was an extremely important inning to get out of there.”

Van Belle was making his third pitching appearance of the tournament. He had allowed one earned run on seven hits in six innings. In this game, he allowed one earned run on five hits in four innings, while striking out eight and walking three.

Retherford started on the mound for West Side. He allowed one earned run in two innings in the second round in a 9-0 loss to Torrance, Calif, in his only previous pitching appearance in Williamsport. He also pitched two innings in this game, allowing three earned runs on two hits.

Taylor North took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first. A one-out single with the bases loaded by Jackson Surma scored the first two runs. Surma advanced to third on a wild pitch and then scored on a groundout.

West Side cut the deficit to 3-1 in the second. Chase Moak led off the inning with a triple and scored when the next batter, Cooper Clay, singled to left.

In the third, West Side loaded the bases with no outs on singles by Retherford, Gavin Saylor and a walk by Maddox Jones. The next two batters struck out, however, and Taylor North ended the threat by picking a runner off third base.

Taylor North added to its lead in the fifth with two runs scoring on a single by Surma.

Harden pitched the final three innings for West Side, allowing two earned runs on six hits. Taylor North’s Gavin Ulin held West Side to one earned run on one hit in the final two innings.

Saylor led the West Side offense by going 2-for-2. Ulin and Surma each collected two hits for Taylor North.

About the Author