West Side one of six teams alive in Little League World Series

Hamilton team will play a third straight elimination game Thursday night

West Side Little League, the 12-year-old all-star team from Hamilton, is part of an exclusive group. It’s one of six teams remaining in the 2021 Little League World Series.

» PHOTOS: West Side vs. New Hampshire

The Ohio champions remain alive in Williamsport, Pa., along with teams from California, Texas, Michigan, South Dakota and Hawaii.

Only 13 states have produced Little League World Series champions. California has won the most titles (7). No Ohio team has ever won the Little League World Series.

“It feels good to be in the final six teams,” West Side’s Kaleb Harden said.

“It feels really good to be moving on,” JJ Vogel said.

Vogel and Harden pitched Wednesday in a 4-3 victory against North Manchester-Hooksett, N.H., at Volunteer Stadium. Vogel did not allow a hit until giving up a leadoff double in the sixth. Harden gave up a three-run home run in the sixth but then closed the game with a strikeout, stranding the tying runner at first base.

“My team was behind me and talking,” Harden said, “and telling me to throw strikes and take deep breaths, and I did.”

» PHOTOS: West Side vs. Lafayette

The victory sets up a rematch against Torrance, Calif., at 7 p.m. Thursday at Lamade Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN.

If West Side wins Thursday, it will play Sioux Falls, S.D., in the final of the Tom Seaver Bracket at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Lamade. That game would be televised on ABC.

The winner of the Tom Seaver Bracket will face the winner of the Hank Aaron Bracket in the Little League World Series championship game at 3 p.m. Sunday on ABC.

Sioux Falls pitcher Gavin Weir threw a no-hitter against Torrance on Wednesday. Torrance’s 1-0 loss, its first defeat of the tournament, means it will have to beat West Side for a second time to get a second chance against Sioux Falls. West Side lost 9-0 to Torrance, Calif., on Sunday in the second round.

» PHOTOS: West Side through the years

While Weir has been the star of the tournament, West Side’s Vogel isn’t far behind. He has allowed two earned runs and struck out 17 batters in 10 2/3 innings and two starts. He also leads the team with five RBIs in four games.

“He’s had an outstanding year,” West Side coach Ken Coomer said, “not just pitching but hitting as well. He’s a great kid, a great role model for any kids coming up. He does his job. His ERA has to be below 1.00 for the year. He’s been our rock. He leads, and other kids follow. He’s filled that role great.”

In the other Little League World Series game Thursday, Wylie Little League of Abilene, Texas, will play North Little League of Taylor, Mich., at 3 p.m.

The winner of that game will play West A Little League of Honolulu, Hawaii, in the final of the Hank Aaron Bracket at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

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