West Side coach: ‘Words can’t describe how proud I am’

Taylor North press conference at Little League World Series

Ken Coomer’s team wins five games in Little League World Series but falls in championship game

The Little League World Series will expand from 16 teams to 20 in 2022 as it celebrates its 75th anniversary.

The names change every year in Little League as players move on to the next age bracket, but no one would be surprised to see West Side Little League return to Williamsport, Pa., a year from now — not after they delivered the best performance by an Ohio team in the tournament’s history with a runner-up finish in 2021.

“Words can’t describe how proud I am,” coach Ken Coomer wrote in a text message Sunday evening. “They worked hard and fought to the end.”

West Side’s run ended with a 5-2 loss to Taylor North, a team that plays 17 miles southwest of Detroit, Mich., in the championship game at Lamade Stadium.

There were no international teams in the 2021 tournament because of pandemic travel restrictions, and there were few fans in Williamsport because of Little League’s COVID-19 protocols. That didn’t take away from West Side’s accomplishment. It faced elimination games four times after losing 9-0 to Torrance, Calif., in the second round and won all four, reaching the final game by beating Sioux Falls, S.D., 5-2 on Saturday.

“We were underdogs from the start,” Coomer said. “We upset many teams when people thought we had no shot of winning.”

Explore» PHOTOS: West Side vs. Taylor North

Chance Retherford led West Side in hits (7-for-19, .368), extra-base hits (two doubles and a triple) and runs (5) in the seven games in Williamsport.

Chase Moak (5-for-14, .417), led the team in batting average. JJ Vogel (3-for-15) led the team with six RBIs and hit West Side’s only home run.

West Side hit .241 as a team and had a .359 on-base percentage.

Six players saw action on the mound. JJ Vogel had a 1.13 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings. Kaleb Harden had a 2.25 ERA in eight innings and struck out eight. Noah Davidson struck out 12 and had a 2.57 ERA in seven innings. Cooper Oden posted a 3.94 ERA and struck out 13 in 10 2/3 innings.

West Side’s offense produced enough base runners in the final game with six hits, six walks and two hit batters but stranded 10 runners.

“It’s frustrating,” Coomer said, “but that’s not taking anything away from the boys. We competed and gave all we got. Michigan is an excellent team.”