Cameron Thorning's grand slam helps Michigan pull off comeback win vs. Texas at Little League World Series
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — A weather postponement Sunday and a three-hour rain delay Monday couldn't stop Michigan and Texas from putting on a show.
From the first pitch thrown just after 1 p.m. to the final out just after 6 p.m. both teams battled through a high-scoring back-and-forth, and Michigan managed to snatch the comeback victory away from Texas at the last moment.
A grand slam smashed over the right field wall by Cameron Thorning was the difference-maker, leading the Great Lakes regional champions to a narrow 6-5 win.
Texas got off to a hot start, putting up two runs at the top of the first inning. Dylan Regala and Chris Nelson both made it on base, and Regala rounded home from second off a sacrifice fly hit by Jaxon Wristen. Nelson then made it to third after a Michigan error and crossed home plate on a single by Landry Pate.
Almost as soon as the top of the first ended, the sky opened up over Volunteer Stadium, and grounds crews rushed to bring out tarps. This same game was postponed Sunday due to heavy rain, and Michigan had to wait several additional hours to get its first at-bat.
“That was frustrating,” said Michigan manager Rick Thorning. “Our kids just wanted to play. We tried to stay around the ball field and visualize it ... but if you just let them relax and let them be kids, it’s going to work out.”
Despite the lengthy delay, Texas' fans brought plenty of energy to the stadium. A quartet of young girls sporting Ella Bruning’s signature pigtail hairstyle served as an unofficial pep squad for the team, leading various cheers and chants throughout the game.
“Our support that has traveled all the way out here is just awesome,” said Texas manager Reggie Regala. “Several of our family and fans drove 24 hours all the way out here and it’s awesome the support that we have back home and that we have out here.”
For a moment, it seemed like Texas might run away with the victory. The team put up three more runs in the top of the second inning, giving them a 5-0 lead. However, the five-run margin didn’t last long. Thorning hit his grand slam in the bottom of the second, reducing the deficit to 5-4.
Swing. Celebrate. Smile. #SportsMatter#LLWS x @DICKS pic.twitter.com/EWlYg08BW3
— Little League (@LittleLeague) August 23, 2021
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Texas remained scoreless through the remainder of the game. After the second inning, the team had only one hit, and Michigan’s second pitcher, Gavin Ulin, struck out four batters in 4 ⅓ innings pitched.
“Hats off to Michigan,” Regala said. “They changed the right pitching at the right time and we just couldn’t get the sticks going to connect.”
Michigan landed nine hits to Texas’ five, they also earned two clutch runs when they needed them most: at the bottom of the fifth inning.
With runners on second and third, Jaxon Shufeldt hit a ground out that brought Jackson Surma home. Texas then had a fatal error between first baseman Brody Martin and Bruning at catcher that allowed Jakob Furkas to sprint across the plate.
Texas now will have to battle its way back out of the consolation bracket to have a chance at the Little League World Series title.
“I told the boys and Ella, we’re going to be fine,” Regala said. “It just allows us to play every day. I love to play every day; I hate the breaks. We’re used to this. We did this in the regionals in Waco. We lost that first game and then played every day after that. We’re here, so let’s play some baseball.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Little League World Series: Michigan rallies for win over Texas