Local little league team headed to state finals

Tribune Staff • Jul 24, 2019 at 12:15 AM

The Little League World Series is scheduled to kick off in South Williamsport on August 15 and one local team is knocking on the door of the sport’s premier championship. Beach Little League clinched a berth to the state tournament championship game today with an extra-inning walk-off two-run home run in Tuesday’s semifinal.

After clinching the programs first district championship, the Beach Major All-Star team entered the state tournament, finishing 2-1 in pool play to qualify for the quarterfinals. There, they dispatched teams from Reeths-Puffer and White Lake to grab a spot in the state tournament.

Hosted by Union Township and Mount Pleasant Little League, the state tournament determines a champion to represent Michigan at the Great Lakes Regional tournament August 4-10 in Westfield, Indiana.

Beach picked up state tournament pool play wins over Kingsford, and Mount Pleasant and a loss to Rockford. They took on Ira Township in Monday’s quarterfinal, winning 6-1 thanks to a 6-run second inning.

Tuesday, they took on Grosse Point Farms City in a raucous affair. Beach built up a 5-2 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth inning before Farms City plated three runs to tie the game up 5-5. The score would hold through the seventh, sending the game to extras.

Ethan Loutenschlaeger proved the hero Beach needed in extra innings. Owen Smies took a pitch to the body to put the winning run on first before Loutenschlaeger brought him home with a blast.

Coached by Dale Grimm, Eric Kipling and Dan Miller, Beach is scheduled to face Bay City Northwest, who dispatched West Portage in its semifinal, 18-3, in a four-inning mercy.

Bay City’s run to the state finals has been dominant, to say the least. Before the 18-3 semifinal bashing, Bay City eliminated Jackson Southwest 17-1 in the quarterfinals and outscored its opponents 16-1 through pool play. The run also included a perfect game from the mound.

Following each state tournament Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Michigan will send their top little league team to the regional, with the semifinals and finals broadcast nationwide on ESPN.

From the title game in Westfield, it is straight to Williamsport for the regional champion, taking on the Great Lakes moniker and compete as one of eight teams in the United States half of the bracket.

Round 1 brings a matchup vs. the Midwest champion with the winner advancing to the US quarterfinals against the winner of New England and Southeast. The eventual US champion will face off with the International champion, a field featuring teams from each of the following regions: Caribbean, Australia, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Europe-Africa, Japan, Mexico and Canada.

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