The 2021 Little League World Series kicked off Thursday with eight of the 16 games in action in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Every team is still alive for a championship in the double-elimination format, but a win in the opening game goes a long way:
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The 74th Little League World Series begins today in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.<br><br>A good start is critical -- 2019 Louisiana is the only team to win the championship after losing its first game since the LLWS expanded from eight to 16 teams in 2001 <a href="https://t.co/Q8CyV3z6rl">pic.twitter.com/Q8CyV3z6rl</a>
The team from Hawaii showed it is already a top contender for the title, following up its undefeated run in the West regional with an easy win in the first round.
There are still a lot of games to be played before the Aug. 29 championship.
Honolulu LL (Hawaii) def. Manchester LL (Connecticut), 9-1
West Side LL (Ohio) def. Nolensville LL (Tennessee), 1-0
Hastings Baseball LL (Nebraska) def. Toms River East LL (New Jersey), 5-2
Torrance LL (California) def. North Manchester-Hooksett LL (New Hampshire), 10-2
Full bracket available at LittleLeague.org
It was the first day of the tournament, but Tennessee and Ohio provided fans with a classic battle that remained 0-0 through seven innings. Ohio eventually came through with the 1-0 win in walk-off fashion after loading the bases in the eighth:
Before the game-winner, Nolan Brown and J.J. Vogel were locked in an impressive pitcher's duel to keep it scoreless.
The defense was also played at a high level for both teams, with Tennessee shortstop Ryan Pearson especially doing his part:
Only one team could win, however, and it was West Side Little League that will advance.
Hastings Baseball Little League in Nebraska had an easier time with its opening game against New Jersey. The home team jumped out to a 5-0 lead through four innings and Toms River East simply couldn't keep up on the scoreboard.
Hunter Nepple was the star of the show for Nebraska, throwing six strikeouts in four innings on the mound while adding three hits and two RBI at the plate.
The Midwest region winners are off to a strong start, but they could have trouble in the next round against the red-hot Honolulu Little League.
The Hawaiian squad showcased its ability at the plate with nine runs on nine hits from eight different players.
Ryan Keanu threw a complete game while striking out seven in six innings, putting the rest of the field on notice.
California took control of the final game of the day against New Hampshire with four runs in the second inning with solid hitting throughout the lineup.
Torrance Little League added four more runs in the fifth inning and two in the sixth to pull away for what became an easy opening win in Williamsport.
The remaining eight teams will start their run at the LLWS title on Friday.