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DeBakker no-hits Midland-Northeast, Norway 9-10s to state title game

(Matt McCarthy/Daily News photos) NORWAY’s Landon DeBakker (17) connects with the ball in a semifinal game versus Midland-Northeast in the 2021 Michigan Little League 9-10 State Tournament on Tuesday on Brackett Field at Marion Park in Norway. DeBakker hurled a no-hitter for Norway in the game.

NORWAY — With a spot in the Little League state championship on the line, Norway’s 9- and 10-year-old All-Stars got a magnificent pitching performance from Landon DeBakker — a no-hitter. Norway defeated Midland-Northeast 1-0 in the first of two semifinal matchups in the state tournament Tuesday on Brackett Field at Marion Park in Norway.

Norway will take on Greater Bay of Bay City Little League in today’s state championship game. Greater Bay defeated South Portage, 7-2 in the evening semifinal game at Marion Park on Tuesday.

DeBakker fanned seven as he was never rattled and kept coming at hitters, showing exceptional poise for a 10-year-old. In Midland’s half of the final inning, DeBakker hit the first two batters with pitches, then committed an error when fielding a bunt, which loaded the bases.

“Landon DeBakker is the most cool and calm kid there is,” said Norway head coach Scott Sternhagen. “Only once this season he struggled controlling his emotions, he’s simply so calm all the time. He was probably thinking about fishing or eating while he was on the mound, when the bases were loaded with no outs. He’s the only guy on our team that could have handled this situation.”

DeBakker got the next two batters to strike out looking. With two outs, Madden Shepardson flew out to left field and Trenton Halvas squeezed the ball into his glove to secure the win for Norway.

“Our team came out and gave it everything they had today, I am proud of their effort,” said Northeast head coach Noah Shepardson. “That was a great baseball game, I gotta hand it to Norway, they came out with a plan to beat us, and shut us down.”

The lone run of the game was scored by Norway in the top half of the opening inning. With one out, Tyler Sternhagen reached on an error by Midland’s right fielder Wyatt Ghose.

After a passed ball, which put Sternhagen at second base, Norway first baseman Colton Lord found a gap between the Midland shortstop and second baseman, for an RBI single. That run ended up being the only run Norway needed to advance to the state championship game, which is scheduled for 4 p.m. this afternoon at Marion Park.

“It’s unbelievable that the early run we scratched out ended up being the difference in the game,” coach Sternhagen said. “Colton (Lord) hits the ball hard and finds a hole in the defense when we have runners on base.”

The Norway crowd, which has been loud and proud throughout this tournament run, was as loud as they could be again Tuesday afternoon. Lots of proud parents, grandparents and supporters.

“We took out a powerhouse program to go on to the state championship game, I don’t know what to say about that,” coach Sternhagen said.

Midland has two separate Little Leagues in its area. Coach Shepardson said he chose the 13 on the Northeast roster from a nominated pool of 17 players.

Norway 1 0 0 0 0 0 — 1/3/1

N. East 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0/0/1

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