TAYLOR — Taylor North, representing Michigan, edged Hawaii 2-1 today to win the Hank Aaron Championship and advance to the 2021 Little League World Series Championship against Hamilton, Ohio, at 3:30 p.m. Sunday in Williamsport, Pa. The game will be telecast on ABC-TV.
Unbeaten Hawaii won LLWS titles in 2018, 2008, and 2005, and were second in 2010, and had knocked Taylor into the elimination bracket earlier this week. But in the rematch, it was all Cam Thorning and Jacob Furkas.
Thorning, the tournament’s outstanding hitter, drilled a no-doubt two-run home run to right field on the first pitch he saw in the opening inning for a 2-0 lead. He then took the mound and pitched 3.1 innings of one-run baseball until his shoulder stiffened and he departed in favor of Furkas.
Furkas was magnificent in relief, throwing shutout baseball the rest of the game. Thorning and Furkas held Hawaii to just two hits and the single run. Taylor’s defense, other than a single error, was air tight. Lukas Farner, the team’s shortstop, played especially well.
The victory sends Taylor (4-1) to the LLWS championship game against Ohio (5-1). Ironically, Taylor and Ohio were the top two qualifiers out of the Great Lakes Regional in Whitestown, Ind. Taylor routed Ohio, 9-1, in that title game, earning the regional championship and the “A” seed in the Hank Aaron bracket of the LLWS.
Taylor now finds itself the favorite to win the overall title. However, the Ohio team that they will face tomorrow doesn’t look the the same one they beat a couple of weeks ago.
Playing as a “B” seed in the Tom Seaver Championship on the other side of the bracket, Ohio upset a highly regarded Tennessee team, 1-0, before being routed by California 9-0.
Playing in the elimination bracket, Ohio rebounded to beat Louisiana and New Hampshire to set up a rematch with California, which had been no-hit the previous day by South Dakota’s Gavin Weir, the star pitcher of the tournament. Ohio upset California, 4-2.
Today in the game before the Taylor-Hawaii showdown, Ohio upset South Dakota, 5-2. (Weir was ineligible to pitch in the game because of his pitch count total.)
Sunday’s schedule starts with the consolation game between South Dakota and Hawaii at 10 a.m. on ESPN, followed by the LLWS Home Run Derby at noon, and then Taylor-Ohio at 3:30 p.m. on ABC.
Taylor 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. This is Taylor’s first appearance in the LLWS.