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El Segundo Headed for Little League Regional After Dramatic Victory

El Segundo Headed for Little League Regional After Dramatic Victory

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

Dan Wood

Dan Wood

8/1/2023

Updated: 8/1/2023

MISSION VIEJO, Calif.—One admittedly large step is all that stands between El Segundo Little League’s major all-star team and the realization of a dream shared by virtually every 12-year-old who has ever played baseball.
A trip to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, will be at stake in the West Regional that begins with two games Aug. 5 in San Bernardino.
El Segundo secured the league’s first-ever regional berth with a dramatic 3–2 win over Sherman Oaks Southern in the second game of a double-header for the Southern California championship July 31 at Marty Russo Youth Athletic Park.
“What can you say? They battled, and then we battled back,” El Segundo Manager Danny Boehle told The Epoch Times. “That’s a game for the ages right there.”
Sherman Oaks Southern, needing to beat previously undefeated El Segundo twice to claim the Southern California title and move on to the regional, earned a 4–3 triumph in the opener to force a winner-take-all second game.
Trailing 1–0, Sherman Oaks Southern took the lead by scoring twice in the top of the sixth inning of the nightcap, only to see El Segundo rally for two runs and the walk-off victory.
“This team never, ever gives in,” Mr. Boehle said. “They believed in each other. They played hard. They just knew they weren’t out of it, especially with the top of our order coming up. Every one of those guys can hit it out.”
El Segundo Little League. (Christibelle Villena/El Segundo Little League)

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

With one out, leadoff hitter Brody Brooks did exactly that, blasting an opposite-field drive over the right-field fence on an 0–2 pitch to tie the game. A single by starting pitcher Louis Lappe—who had pitched three-hit ball over 5 2/3 innings—and a Jaxon Kalish double put runners at second and third. After an intentional walk to Lucas Keldorf loaded the bases, Lappe raced home on a wild pitch, igniting El Segundo’s celebration.
“We’re a small city surrounded by Greater Los Angeles, tucked in there,” El Segundo Little League President Jamin Griffiths told The Epoch Times. “We’ve always kind of prided ourselves on being a baseball town. This is unprecedented for us. We’ve had good teams in the past, but this is just a really special group of kids.”
Baseball tradition in the community next to Los Angeles International Airport goes back at least as far as former Kansas City Royals star George Brett, who long before his Hall of Fame big-league career played in the El Segundo Little League in the mid-1960s.
Today, the league’s primary field bears his name.
El Segundo Little League. (Kathryn Narahara/El Segundo Little League)

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

Mr. Brett, a 13-time all-star third baseman and one of the top hitters of his generation, texted the team with congratulations after Monday’s victory.
He certainly would have liked the defense turned in by El Segundo’s infield during the championship game. The combination of third baseman Declan McRoberts, Brooks at shortstop, second baseman Colby Lee and Kalish at first base made several terrific plays to support Lappe, who struck out six and walked three.
El Segundo, which won the District 36 and Section 4 championships to advance to the Southern California tournament, will take an 11–1 record and a cumulative scoring advantage of 98–15 into the regional.
First up will be a 7:30 p.m. contest against the Northern California champion, Bollinger Canyon of San Ramon.
Arizona champion Canyon View of Tucson and Hawaii champion Hilo are set for a 4 p.m. matchup, with all games being played at Al Houghton Stadium. The four-team tournament is double-elimination, until a single Aug. 11 championship game, made necessary to accommodate ESPN’s television coverage.
El Segundo Little League. (Christibelle Villena/El Segundo Little League)

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

“I don’t know much about Northern Cal,” Mr. Boehle said. “I know Hawaii is always in the World Series talk, and Arizona always has a nice team. We’ll keep battling and playing hard. Regionals is not the end of the mission. The mission is Williamsport.”
El Segundo’s 12 players, most of whom won a Southern California championship together in the 10-year-old division two years ago, can expect plenty of support when they take the field in San Bernardino.
In addition to a sizable contingent of fans expected to travel from home, more will be rooting from afar during at least one watch party that is set for a local restaurant.
“El Segundo has always been super supportive of Little League,” Mr. Griffiths said. “There’s just a lot of excitement around it, especially from us. We’re parents and volunteers, so nobody is in this for any money. We just want the kids to create some special memories.”
That mission has already been accomplished.
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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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