SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pennsylvania – Jackson Surma walked twice to the plate with running backs in scoring position in the biggest game of his young life. Both times it was up to the task.
Surma drove in four runs and Ethan Van Belle struck out eight in Michigan’s 5-2 win over Ohio in the Little League World Series (LLWS) title game.
“The first time, I knew I had runners on second and third,” Surma said. “There were no two outs, so I needed something to play. He threw me a curve, I waited for it and sent it to the left. The second time I went. he threw a fastball and I went for it. “
The team secured its first junior tournament title for the state of Michigan since 1959.
“We’re excited to be brought up with them,” manager Rick Thorning said. “Being in that group and saying that a Michigan team won the LLWS still doesn’t sound right when you say it.”
Both Michigan and Ohio are from the Great Lakes region, and it was the first time that two clubs from the same region had competed for the title. That’s because, for the first time since 1975, there were no international teams in the tournament due to restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization allowed two teams from each US region to compete to fill the 16 spots.
The pandemic also placed strict limits on the public, with just 1,017 people in the stands Sunday. The famous hill behind Lamade Stadium was almost empty.