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Little League World Champions Galvanize El Segundo Community

Little League World Champions Galvanize El Segundo Community

Louis Lappe (19) of the West Region team from El Segundo, California celebrates with teammates after hitting a walk-off home run to defeat the Caribbean Region team from Willemstad, Curacao during the Little League World Series Championship Game at Little League International Complex in South Williamsport, Pa., on Aug. 27, 2023. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Dan Wood

Dan Wood

8/28/2023

Updated: 8/28/2023

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There certainly was no shortage of faith from city officials in El Segundo’s newly crowned title as Little League World Series champions.
Even before a 6–1 victory over Needville, Texas in the United States championship game Aug. 26, El Segundo Mayor Drew Boyles and his wife, Lee, made the “game-day decision” to book a red-eye flight to the East Coast.
An ensuing three-hour drive from Baltimore enabled the two to be in attendance in Williamsport, Pennsylvania the following day to see El Segundo claim the Little League World Series title with a dramatic 6–5 win over Willemstad, Curacao.
Back in El Segundo, meanwhile, hundreds of fans watched Louis Lappe’s game-winning, walk-off home run to lead off the bottom of the sixth and final inning on a big-screen television feed at George Brett Field in Recreation Park.
It was City Councilman Ryan Baldino who came up with that idea, more than two weeks earlier, after El Segundo had secured its trip to Williamsport by winning the West Regional in San Bernardino.
“Once they left San Bernardino, I had a very strong feeling that they would do extremely well at the World Series,” Mr. Baldino told The Epoch Times. “So much so, the following Monday I was talking to the city about us needing to put a Jumbotron on Brett Field. They all thought I was crazy. I’m like, ‘Trust me. When it all comes together, you’re going to be so happy with a live shot from George Brett Field.’”
Louis Lappe (19) of the West Region team from El Segundo, Calif., rounds bases after hitting a walk-off home run to defeat the Caribbean Region team from Willemstad, Curacao during the Little League World Series Championship Game at Little League International Complex in South Williamsport, Pa., on Aug. 27, 2023. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Louis Lappe (19) of the West Region team from El Segundo, Calif., rounds bases after hitting a walk-off home run to defeat the Caribbean Region team from Willemstad, Curacao during the Little League World Series Championship Game at Little League International Complex in South Williamsport, Pa., on Aug. 27, 2023. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Indeed, ABC television’s coverage of the championship game showed the scene back in El Segundo on multiple occasions. When El Segundo carried a 5–1 lead into the fifth inning, it appeared only a matter of time before the celebration could begin, but that all changed when Curacao’s Nasir El-Ossais blasted a two-out grand slam to tie the score.
From George Brett Field in El Segundo to Howard J. Lamade Stadium in Williamsport, the reaction among El Segundo fans was the same.
“We were all just kind of in disbelief,” Mr. Boyles told The Epoch Times. “It was almost like despair set in immediately. Then when Lappe walked up, he wracked that thing. It was unbelievable the amount of joy and excitement that everybody felt. It was unreal, amazing that we were there and got to experience it.”
The home run was the fifth of the World Series for Lappe, who also starred on the pitcher’s mound throughout the summer all-star competition, including with a 5 1/3-inning, 10-strikeout performance Saturday against Needville.
Members of the West Region team from El Segundo, California pose with the championship banner after defeating of the Caribbean Region team from Willemstad, Curacao to win the Little League World Series Championship Gameat Little League International Complex in South Williamsport, Pa., on Aug. 27, 2023. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Members of the West Region team from El Segundo, California pose with the championship banner after defeating of the Caribbean Region team from Willemstad, Curacao to win the Little League World Series Championship Gameat Little League International Complex in South Williamsport, Pa., on Aug. 27, 2023. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Lappe and teammate Brody Brooks, who slugged three home runs while going 12-for-16 at the plate, hit more homers in the World Series than all other participants combined.
While they were the unquestioned stars, significant contributions came from up and down El Segundo’s 12-player lineup.
Eleventh-place hitter Colby Lee, who drew two key walks to help fuel the win over Needville, was tremendous defensively at second base, including an outstanding turn of a double play against Curacao.
Cleanup hitter and catcher Lucas Keldorf, meanwhile, was an absolute rock behind the plate.
“We’re going to be celebrating these kids for a long time, and they deserve it,” Mr. Baldino said.
Colby Lee (10) of the West Region team from El Segundo, California fields a ground ball during the first inning against the Southwest Region team from Needville, Texas during the Little League World Series United States Championship at Little League International Complex in South Williamsport, Pa., on Aug. 27, 2023. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Colby Lee (10) of the West Region team from El Segundo, California fields a ground ball during the first inning against the Southwest Region team from Needville, Texas during the Little League World Series United States Championship at Little League International Complex in South Williamsport, Pa., on Aug. 27, 2023. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

The celebrations, of course, began right after the championship game. Not long after, a Williamsport restaurant that had already closed for the night opened its doors to serve El Segundo’s players, parents, and coaches.
The team flew home Aug. 28, with arranged transportation taking players the short distance from Los Angeles International Airport to Main Street in El Segundo for an informal welcome-home rally. An official parade to honor the team is set for noon Sept. 10 down Main Street.
“Yesterday felt like Fourth of July,” El Segundo Little League president Jamin Griffiths told The Epoch Times. “It just felt like a holiday here in town, people honking horns down the street after they won, bars and restaurants throwing on, ‘We Are The Champions,’ people singing along in the park. Everybody recognized what a special team that was and how we could just rally behind them.”
In addition to the championship-game festivities at George Brett Field, named after the Hall of Fame third baseman and former El Segundo Little Leaguer, multiple dining establishments in the city held watch parties throughout the World Series.
Danny Boehle, manager, and Louis Lappe (19) of the West Region team from El Segundo, California celebrate after winning the Little League World Series Championship Game against the Caribbean Region team from Willemstad, Curacao at Little League International Complex in South Williamsport, Pa., on Aug. 27, 2023. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Danny Boehle, manager, and Louis Lappe (19) of the West Region team from El Segundo, California celebrate after winning the Little League World Series Championship Game against the Caribbean Region team from Willemstad, Curacao at Little League International Complex in South Williamsport, Pa., on Aug. 27, 2023. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

The scene at Rock N Brews on Main Street as El Segundo wrapped up the championship included cheerleaders from the local middle school, the mascot from El Segundo High School, children with face paint, “all blue and yellow colors,” and upwards of 300 people.
“Gundo representation at its finest,” Rock N Brews Director of Marketing Katy Carr told The Epoch Times. “It was an awesome community and team-building event, on and off the field. We’re just so proud of those kids. How they were able to come together is really special.”
Among the perks of being Little League World Series champions is being honored by your local Major League Baseball team. The Dodgers plan to do exactly that prior to their Aug. 29 home game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
At some point, though, it will be back to reality and a return to El Segundo Middle School, where the entire team attends, and classes began Aug. 23.
“They have been excused for their absences,” Principal Sarah Davlantis told The Epoch Times. “The campus is pretty excited, pretty upbeat about what’s going on. We can’t wait to have them back.”
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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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