After not being held in 2020, the 74th Little League World Series was a contest of 16 teams from the United States competing against each other for the right to be called the best youth baseball team. And in the end, the right to be called champions goes to the Great Lakes State.
On Sunday, Michigan's Taylor North defeated Ohio's Hamilton West Side in the Little League World Series final, earning the 2021 championship by a score of 5-2. The victory ended a long dry spell for the state of Michigan in the Little League World Series, as its last championship had come all the way back in 1959.
Leading the way for Taylor North was Jackson Surma, who hit a two-run double in his team's three-run first before a two-run single in the fifth inning gave Michigan a four-run lead. Starting pitcher Ethan Van Belle also made a great contribution, as he got his team out of two bases-loaded jams in the first and third innings. While Hamilton West Side was able to load the bases multiple times, the team was only able to cut the deficit between down to three runs by game's end.
Van Belle struck out eight batters, bringing his total strikeouts to 18 in 10 innings during the series.
The title game between Michigan and Ohio marked the first time in World Series history that two teams in the same region played each other for the championship. This was attributed to an altered LLWS format for 2021, as international teams were not allowed in the tournament for the first time since 1975 because of COVID-related travel restrictions. The 16-team field for the tournament was comprised of two teams from each region of the United States.
Michigan's win marked yet another triumph over Ohio, as the team had previously beaten its championship opponent 9-1 in the regional final.