Ohio reaches Little League World Series final after handing South Dakota its first loss

·2 min read

Just two days after dispatching the same California team that earlier had beaten them 9-0, Ohio needed to face undefeated South Dakota in the semifinals of the Little League World Series.

And after the Ohio squad was done, South Dakota was undefeated no more. The Hamilton West Side Little League squad won 5-2 to become the first team from Ohio to reach the LLWS championship game.

Ohio will play Michigan Sunday (3 p.m. ET, ABC) in the final after Michigan's Taylor North squad beat Hawaii 2-1 in the second semifinal.

Hamilton broke the game open early with four runs in the top of the second inning.

Cooper Clay scored the first run on a error by the right fielder on a single by Cooper Oden which was followed by a perfectly placed bunt hit by Krew Brown to load the bases. Levi Smith then singled to score Gage Maggard, but another error in right field let Oden and Brown score for a 4-0 Hamilton lead.

Hamilton, Ohio's Cooper Oden (24) celebrates after scoring during the second inning.
Hamilton, Ohio's Cooper Oden (24) celebrates after scoring during the second inning.

With the arms of Oden and Kaleb Harden on the mound, those four runs proved to be just enough for Hamilton. Oden pitched five innings, allowing eight hits and two runs with six batters struck out. Harden came in relief in the bottom of the sixth inning and shut down South Dakota to earn the save.

The bottom of the sixth was South Dakota's final and best threat to Hamilton. After Oden allowed three singles and South Dakota's Gavin Weir scored to cut the lead to 5-2, Harden entered with two on and no out.

Harden walked the first batter which loaded the bases, but struck out Hayden Gorsett for out one. Harden then got Easton Riley to fly out, but the runner on third needed to retreat back to the bag and didn't score.

Hamilton completed the win after Alex McKinney sharply grounded to Maddox Jones who picked the ball and tagged third base for the force out. The save was Harden's second of the tournament.

South Dakota had some two-out magic against Oden in the third inning. After a strikeout and a groundout, South Dakota scored a run on three-consecutive singles, but the damage was limited to one run after another strikeout to end the inning.

Hamilton West Side's Krew Brown (8) reacts after scoring a run in the second inning during the semifinals of the Little League World Series.
Hamilton West Side's Krew Brown (8) reacts after scoring a run in the second inning during the semifinals of the Little League World Series.

Chance Retherford and Jones teamed up to give Hamilton some insurance in the fifth inning.

Retherford singled to open the fifth inning and after a strikeout, advanced into scoring position with a passed ball. Jones then singled to right, scoring Retherford for the 5-1 Hamilton advantage.

Ohio improved to 5-1 in the Little League World Series after the victory, one more win than any team could finish Saturday's games with. The win against South Dakota was the fourth-straight game, all elimination games, scoring more than four runs. That streak started after falling 9-0 to California on Aug. 22.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: LLWS: Ohio Little League beats South Dakota to advance to final