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El Segundo Embraces Little League World Series Team

El Segundo Embraces Little League World Series Team

El Segundo Little League. (Christibelle Villena/El Segundo Little League)

Dan Wood

Dan Wood

8/15/2023

Updated: 8/15/2023

The talk of the town in El Segundo, California, is nearly a continent away, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
“You can just feel the excitement,” El Segundo Mayor Drew Boyles told The Epoch Times. “The whole town is talking about it, everyone you run into on the streets.”
The conversation is all about El Segundo Little League’s major all-star team, a collection of a dozen 12-year-olds who will open play in the Little League World Series on Aug. 17.
El Segundo earned the World Series ticket by sweeping three games in last week’s West Regional in San Bernardino, including a 3–1 win over Northern California representative San Ramon in the Aug. 11 championship game.
“We’re used to big things happening, believe it or not, in such a small city, but this is, for us, about as big as it gets,” Mr. Boyles said. “All of the restaurants and bars were sold out for the last game. I’m sure they’re going to be packed again Thursday.”
The World Series opens on Aug. 16. El Segundo’s first matchup, scheduled to be televised on ESPN, will come the following day against Great Lakes Regional champion New Albany, Ohio, at 4 p.m. (PT).
El Segundo Little League. (Kathryn Narahara/El Segundo Little League)

El Segundo Little League. (Kathryn Narahara/El Segundo Little League)

The 20-team tournament features 10 United States regional winners and 10 international entries. The U.S. and international championship games are scheduled for Aug. 26, with the world championship game Aug. 27.
El Segundo has fashioned a 14-1 record while capturing district, section, division, and regional championships, outscoring its opposition a combined 111-19. Twice, though, including in a 4-3 decision in the regional opener, Bollinger Canyon of San Ramon pushed El Segundo nearly to the limit.
“By the time you get to the West Region, everybody is good,” El Segundo Little League President Jamin Griffiths told The Epoch Times. “I went to two of the games out there, and I was biting my nails half the time.”
A three-run first inning highlighted by doubles from Brody Brooks and Lucas Keldorf, the latter driving in two runs, was the key in the championship game. Louis Lappe gave up only four hits over 5 2/3 innings, striking out eight and walking one. And just as he had in a 3-2 win over Sherman Oaks Southern in the July 31 division championship game in Mission Viejo, Jaxon Kalish came on to get the final out.
“Every game, someone seems to step up, pick the other guy up,” El Segundo Manager Danny Boehle told The Epoch Times. “It’s huge for the team to know that everybody on this team can contribute at any given time.”
El Segundo Little League. (Kathryn Narahara/El Segundo Little League)

El Segundo Little League. (Kathryn Narahara/El Segundo Little League)

Life since winning the regional title Aug. 11 has been a whirlwind for Mr. Boehle, coaches Eddie Lee and Tim Abrams, and the team members. A 4 a.m. bus the following day from San Bernardino to Ontario for a 5:30 a.m. charter flight to Williamsport left everyone a bit fatigued.
Adding to the excitement, though, was the presence of two other World Series-bound teams on the plane. Henderson, Nevada, and Northeast Seattle had also qualified in San Bernardino, winning the Mountain and Northwest regionals, respectively.
Upon arrival in Williamsport, seeing the facilities took everyone’s breath away.
“It’s like a Major League Baseball Disneyland for kids, or like you’re in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, but it’s baseball, not chocolate,” Mr. Boehle said. “The two baseball fields look like mini-stadiums. It is stunning. I found myself walking around, just sitting in the stands all by myself, kind of crying, just thinking from an emotional standpoint of how I can’t believe we’re here.”
While baseball, of course, is at the forefront, players pass much of their downtime in a game room that features table-tennis and air-hockey tables, 12 arcade games, Xbox, PlayStation 4, pretty much everything one might imagine.
And though there are plenty of language barriers, players from places such as Taiwan, Japan, Cuba, Curacao, Venezuela, Mexico, Panama, and Czechia nonetheless manage to trade Little League pins, photos, and fist bumps.
El Segundo Little League. (Christibelle Villena/El Segundo Little League)

El Segundo Little League. (Christibelle Villena/El Segundo Little League)

Parents of El Segundo players, meanwhile, were scrambling to fit an unexpected trip to Pennsylvania into their summer plans, and their pocketbooks.
And, of course, there will be plenty of fans back home living and dying with every pitch.
“At this point, I don’t think we have to necessarily even announce a watch party,” Mr. Griffiths said. “For the [regional] championship game, I was seeing posts online of people at all the restaurants and bars in El Segundo. Even with the game being broadcast on ESPN, it was pretty amazing how many people got out to just all be together and support the team.”
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Dan Wood

Dan Wood

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Dan Wood is a community sports reporter based in Orange County, California. He has covered sports professionally for some 43 years, spending nearly three decades in the newspaper industry and 14 years in radio. He is an avid music fan, with a strong lean toward country and classic rock.

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