Rematch with Hawaii Saturday to reach Finals
TAYLOR — Taylor North, representing Michigan as the Great Lakes Regional championships, has made it to the final four of the 2021 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Once-beaten Taylor North plays for the Hank Aaron Championship at 3:30 p.m. Aug. 28 against unbeaten Hawaii. On the other side of the LLWS tournament, unbeaten South Dakota faces upstart and once-beaten Ohio for the Tom Seaver Championship.
The winners of these two games will play for the Little League World Series title at 3 p.m. Aug. 29. The losers will play in the consolation game at 10 a.m. the same day. Saturday’s games and Sunday’s will be broadcast on ABC-TV; Sunday’s consolation game will be aired on ESPN.
This is the first time a Taylor Little League team has ever made it to the prestigious LLWS.
Taylor reached the Hank Aaron Championship game by dismantling Texas Aug. 26, 15-6. It was the first game Taylor played in the elimination bracket, and they rebounded by rolling out the big bats. After taking a 3-0 lead in the first inning, they broke the game open with eight runs in the third and put the cork in the bottle with four in the fifth.
Jackson Surma led Taylor North with three hits and three RBI. Jacob Furkas also had three hits, and red-hot Cam Thorning added two including a home run to right-center field that was heading for the Canadian border at last sight.
On the mound, Furkas, Surma and LaForest handled the chores.
On Saturday, Taylor North gets a chance to avenge its only loss in postseason play. Hawaii remains one of the tournament favorites, and had done little to tarnish that image. They beat Taylor 2-0 behind the pitching of Ryan Keanu, who went the distance and threw a one-hitter.
However, the game was also one of the more deceiving one-hit shutouts. Taylor hit no less than six very hard balls, with nothing to show for it. Hawaii played a magnificent defensive game, capped when center fielder Kaika Patoc-Young leaned over the fence and took away a home run from Thorning.
Hawaiian pitcher Keanu set the tone early in the game by making two fine defensive plays, and others were added by second baseman Zach Bagoyo and shortstop Kekoa Payanal.
Taylor, meanwhile, opened the door for Hawaii early. Ethan VanBelle, who took his first loss of the postseason, wild-pitched a game home in the first and Furkas, playing in center field, had a second-inning throwing error that resulted in the second run.
While Taylor is making its first trip to Williamsport, Hawaii teams have earned the trip on a constant basis. They won the titles in 2018, 2008, and 2005, and were second in 2010.
Taylor North, which played most of the summer as the Taylor Made travel team, has posted a 3-1 record during this year’s tournament after sweeping through the Michigan state championships and the Great Lakes Regional tournament without a loss. Taylor beat the same Hamilton, Ohio, team that has made the Tom Seaver Championship finals by a 9-1 score in the regional final.
Taylor North is made up of Manager Rick Thorning and coaches Guido Ulin and Jason Surma; and players Chauncy Adkins, Noah Boren, Lucas Farner, Jakob Fukas, Kale Harris, Max LaForest, Jaxon Shufeldt, Jackson Surma, Cameron Thorning, Gavin Ulin and Ethan VanBelle.