SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT (Pa.) -- Cooper Oden struck out six batters and allowed two runs in five innings Saturday as Ohio beat South Dakota 5-2 at the Little League World Series semifinals.
Hamilton's West Side Little League team became the first state-based team to make it to the LLWS championship. Ohio will face the winner of Saturday’s semifinal between Michigan, Hawaii.
Oden stated, "That first pitch was nerve-racking. This is probably the largest game I have ever pitched in my life and probably will ever pitch." "This is the ultimate dream of every 12-year-old baseball player.
South Dakota, trailing 5-1 at the end of the sixth, rallied for three consecutive singles from Cooper to score a run. South Dakota loaded the bases with reliever Kaleb Harten and brought the winning run up to the plate. Kaleb managed to get three outs, including the last on a third-inning force, to send Ohio into its title game.
Ohio was the first team to reach the championship without having won its regional tournament. It finished as runner-up at the Great Lakes to Michigan. This year's tournament is unique because of COVID-19 protocols. International teams won't be playing in the tournament for the first time since 1975 due to travel restrictions.
In the second, Ohio led Sioux Falls starter Maddux munson 4-0. Cooper struck a single with runners on first and second, and one out. Right fielder Gunner Alfson was unable to catch it, which allowed a run.
Krew Brown loaded bases with a bunt double, setting up Levi Smith's bases-clearing single. South Dakota gave up four runs in this inning, the first in the tournament.
South Dakota responded by scoring a run in third. On Maddox Jones' RBI single, Ohio added an insurance run in the fifth.
Oden was a great kid. Mike Gorsett, South Dakota manager, said that Oden was very precise about his location. "His fastball was not overwhelming, but when you throw so many fastballs and then throw that fastball it really ties up guys," Mike Gorsett, South Dakota manager, said.