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    Michigan takes second Little League World Series title on big hits


    WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Taylor North Little League’s Ethan Van Belle lived like a wild man throughout the championship game of the Little League World Series, loading the bases in two of his three innings on timely hits by Hamilton (Ohio)’s West Side Little League squad. Despite the struggles, though, Van Belle always had an answer.

    Ohio loaded the bases in both the first and third inning to no avail, and Taylor North Little League capitalized off a big first inning to claim a 5-2 win, giving Michigan its first LLWS championship since Hamtramck won it all in 1959. 

    It all started back in Taylor.

    “I had some of the kids and other coaches had kids and we decided to bring them together for a travel tournament,” Taylor North manager Rick Thorning said. “We got the boys together and they played really well. We decided to bring these guys together. They’ve been practicing and playing together so long they were able to come together and do something special.”

    The Taylor North Little League team celebrates after the 5-2 win over Ohio in the Little League World Series championship game in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021.

    THE ROAD TO THE TITLE

    THE FINAL:Michigan’s Taylor North mows down Ohio, 5-2

    THE REMATCH:Michigan beats Hawaii, 2-1, advances to championship

    THE OPENER:Michigan shuts out Florida, 8-0, to open Williamsport run

    But back to Williamsport, where the title run — despite a 3-0 lead after the first inning — was far from easy.

    Van Belle found himself in a difficult position as he battled through control issues in the top of the first. He walked two batters and gave up a single to another to load the bases with just one out. Thorning could see the concern on Van Belle’s face, quickly calling a mound visit.

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