A huge crowd of locals gather at George Brett field in El Segundo, CA on Sunday, August 27, 2023, to cheer on the hometown baseball team that is playing in the Little League World Series Championship game. (Photo by Gil Castro-Petres, Contributing Photographer)
A crowd of El Segundo residents who packed a local park erupted when Louis Lappe hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the final inning on Sunday, Aug. 27. The 12-year-old’s dramatic solo shot into the left field stands lifted the seaside city’s headline-making team over Curacao to snag the Little League World Series’ international championship in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, as the world watched on live TV.
The 6-5 victory sent the hundreds of well-wishers at George Brett Field into a frenzy as they rooted for their team more than 2,600 miles away.
Related: El Segundo wins Little League World Series on dramatic homer
“It gave me chills,” said resident Lisa Dornblaser, following the victory.
“They won the right way, with their heads up,” said another resident, Trevor Koppel. “They represented the town and the country very well.”
There were plenty of nail-biting moments throughout the six-inning game on Sunday, none more tense than when Curacao tied the game 5-5 with a grand slam home run in the top of the fifth inning. But Lappe — the team’s 6-foot-1 post-season star known as “The Natural” — has risen to the occasion throughout the World Series.
Of course, he wasn’t the only hero on this amazing team, which racked up one stirring win after another, moving from local to regional to national titles..
El Segundo City Councilmember Ryan Baldino said “you could not have scripted a better ending to that game.”
“I knew that (batting) order is strong,” Baldino said. “Our kids have played so well and I’m just happy right now. I don’t think I slept in a week. So happy for these boys.”
Chris Pimentel, also an El Segundo councilmember, said the players and coaches have all worked “really hard to have success.”
“Also, part of baseball is being able to bounce back and be resilient, they have all those things,” Pimentel said. The El Segundo team did precisely that, going on an undefeated streak after losing early in the double-elimination tournament.
El Segundo defeated a team from Needville, Texas, 6-1, on Saturday to win the U.S. crown. The same team of Texans handed El Segundo its only loss in the World Series.
The win advanced the El Segundans to Sunday’s championship against Curacao, the Caribbean champions, who had won the International division on Saturday.
El Segundo won Saturday on the strength of Lappe’s five RBIs — and he also gave up just three hits while pitching. Another El Segundo standout, Brody Brooks, hit a homer in Saturday’s game.
The field where Sunday’s watch party took place was named after George Brett, a Hall of Fame third baseman who played at El Segundo High School. He graduated in 1971 and was drafted by the Kansas City Royals, where he spent his entire record-setting career.
Jon and Jamie Morra were in attendance at Brett Field on Sunday with their children, 9-year-old Anna, 7-year-old Will and 2-year old Andrew.
Jon was playing toss with Will, who played Little League this season. So did Anna.
“This is so exciting, I’ve never lived in a town where the kids have done this well in any sport,” Jon said.
Chau Berman said her son, Travis, grew up playing ball with most of the boys on the now championship team.
“I can’t even imagine representing the country in the World Series, it’s pretty unbelievable,” Berman said.
Before the game began, Baldino said the “whole town has been alive this entire week.”
“We’re so proud of everything these boys have done,” Baldino said. “This team has been together for a long time. They grew up here. I watched these kids grow up on this baseball field here.”
What’s next? The big homecoming.
“I can’t wait for them to come home and see all the support that they’ve gotten in town and just around the Southern California,” Berman said, “and just to see how much of an impact they made on our little town.”