The 2017 Little League World Series got underway in Williamsport, PA on Thursday. Eight teams from the United States and eight international teams will duke it out over the next 11 days to decide a champion.
Among the teams is Grosse-Pointe Woods-Shores Little League in Michigan. After a resilient run through the Great Lakes Regional last week, the boys from the mitten are eyeing to become the first Great Lakes team to win the whole thing since 2002. A title would also be the first LLWS championship for the state of Michigan in nearly 60 years.
They were one of four games to begin play on Thursday, going up against the Southwest Regional champion from Lufkin, Texas. The Michiganders kept it close early on, but the Texas team was able to gradually pull away late and secure a 5-1 victory over Michigan.
Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores would remain hitless through the first three innings. They finally got off the schneid with one out in the fourth on a sharp single to left from Joe Randazzo.
It ended up being just one of two hits for Michigan in the contest. The other came in their last at-bats in the top half of the sixth inning. No. 9 hitter Will Pflaum clubbed a homer to center to halt Texas' bid for a shutout victory.
Outside of that, Michigan had trouble mustering anything off Lufkin starter Hunter Ditsworth, who went the distance allowing just the one run on two hits, punching out eight Michigan hitters. For Grosse Pointe, starter Jack Jones kept Texas in check until the third when they ambushed him for back-to-back-to-back homers that resulted in four of their five runs on the night.
Jones threw 53 pitches, meaning he will need three calendar days of rest before he can pitch again in a game, per the LLWS pitch count rules. His teammate Drew Hill, who came on to pitch the final 2.1 innings after Jones, will need only two days of rest after tossing 45 pitches.
A loss puts the boys from Grosse Pointe into the loser's bracket. They will take the field again on Saturday, August 19 against the team from Jackson, New Jersey. The Mid-Atlantic Regional champions also lost their tournament opener on Thursday to the New England Regional champions from Fairfield, Connecticut.
It is a double-elimination format in the LLWS. A win for Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores and they continue on. It's not where they want to be, but it's certainly familiar territory for the Michigan team. They lost their first game in the Great Lakes Regional last week before rattling off four straight wins to punch their ticket to Williamsport.
The game can be seen on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN.