Jackson Surma drove in four runs and Ethan Van Belle stuck out eight in four innings, helping Taylor North defeat Ohio (Hamilton West Side), 5-2, for Michigan’s first Little League World Series championship since 1959 (Hamtramck) and second all-time.
Taylor North Little League, which finished 5-1 in the World Series and won 15 of its final 16 games this season, did it at the plate, on the mound and with stellar defense Sunday in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Pitching in relief, Gavin Ulin loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth inning and walked in a run, but got Chance Retherford to fly out to center field on the first pitch, leading to jubilation and raucous cheers of support for the kids from Michigan.
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Surma’s line drive to left field with one out in the bottom of the first put Taylor North ahead 2-0. He later scored Taylor’s third run of the inning.
Then with runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the fifth and Taylor North ahead 3-1, Surma tomahawked a head-high pitch up the middle to score two runs.
Van Belle, who started on the mound, worked out of multiple jams, including a bases loaded, no-out situation in the third. He struck out the next two batters, then was helped by a mental error. After a swinging strike two, Ohio’s runner on third base thought the inning was over, ran toward the dugout and was easily picked off on a heads-up play from catcher Cameron Thorning to end the inning.
Van Belle also got out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning with a strikeout.
Ulin got the final six outs on the mound for Taylor North, helped by a sweet 6-4-3 double play to end the fifth inning.
Ulin made waves during the game for his taped interview describing his fledging lawn mowing business, where he charges $35-40 per lawn.
“I cut lawns in my spare time,” he said. “I got 10 lawns a week. … I like that cash.”
Hamtramck’s 1959 championship squad was led by dominating pitcher Pinky Deras, who went 18-0 — all complete games — with 16 shutouts and 10 no-hitters.
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