Michigan beats Hawaii 2-1 and moves into LLWS championship

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Taylor, Mich.'s Cameron Thorning delivers during the second inning of a baseball game against Honolulu, Hawaii, at the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Cameron Thorning hit a two-run homer and struck out seven over 3 ⅓ innings as Michigan defeated Hawaii 2-1 in a semifinal Saturday at the Little League World Series.

Michigan’s win set up a championship game Sunday against Ohio, 5-2 winners over South Dakota earlier in the day. It will be the first-ever meeting between teams from the same region in the title game.

“Two good teams coming out of the Great Lakes, it’s such an awesome thing to be able to say,” said manager Rick Thorning, Cameron's dad. “It shows we are a powerhouse this year.”

Both Taylor North Little League, from Taylor, Michigan, and West Side Little League from Hamilton, Ohio, advanced out of the Great Lakes as this year’s tournament awarded LLWS bids to two teams per region because COVID-19 travel restrictions meant international clubs couldn’t participate.

Michigan’s squad beat Ohio 9-1 when they last met at the Great Lakes region championship.

Cameron Thorning homered over the right-field wall in the top of the first inning, racing around the bases to meet his teammates at plate. He followed that up by striking out the side in the bottom half.

“That’s obviously one of the greatest moments of my life because it’s in the Little League world Series, so it means a lot more,” he said.

The team from Honolulu Little League got to Thorning in the bottom of the third when Kaikea Patoc-Young singled to right to drive in a run. But reliever Jakob Furkas kept Hawaii scoreless and hitless the rest of the way.

He sealed the deal by striking out Eli Iopa and bounced his way off the mound toward the third-base line to celebrate with his teammates.

A championship game win by Taylor North would bring a LLWS title home to Michigan for the first time since 1959.

“The support that’s going to be there for us, whether we win or lose this game, is going to be out of this world,” Rick Thorning said. “It’s going to be something that touches us for our lifetimes.”

The loss ended Hawaii’s bid for a second LLWS title since 2018. Prior to the game, Honolulu received the Jack Losch Little League Baseball World Series Team Sportsmanship Award.