EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - The Little League World Series champions returned to Southern California Monday and were celebrated in a boisterous caravan through El Segundo, where they were welcomed on Main Street by hundreds of cheering residents and fans who lined the roadway.
Police and fire department vehicles also took part in the procession, and spectators squeezed onto the street as the vehicles carrying the team made their way along the route.
There was a formal championship parade honoring the team on Main Street Sept. 10. On Tuesday night, the team is expected to be recognized at Dodger Stadium.
The team arrived at Los Angeles International Airport around 2:30 p.m. As they exited the plane, El Segundo manager Danny Boehle told reporters he and the team were happy to be home.
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, PENNSYLVANIA - AUGUST 27: Members of the West Region team from El Segundo, California pose with the championship banner after defeating of the Caribbean Region team from Willemstad, Curaçao to win the Little League World Series Ch
"We've been on the road for a long time, and these boys are itching to come home and celebrate with their family here," he said. "And we just couldn't be more happy with the outcome and the way these guys respected the city of El Segundo, the state of California and the United States of America. It's been an incredible journey. They finished the mission they started three years ago, and I love them all and I can't wait to celebrate with our town."
Boehle got choked up as he talked about the resilience of the team.
"When it sinks in, it'll get more emotional for me," he said. "... It's unbelievable and historic and monumental, and the memories that these kids will have, as well as with their coaches, will last a lifetime."
El Segundo won the Little League World Series in dramatic fashion Sunday, as Louis Lappe homered leading off the bottom of the sixth and final inning to defeat the all-star team from the Willemstad, Curaçao-based Pabao Little League, 6-5, in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
The home run was the first Willemstad allowed in its six World Series games.
Lappe reached base on all three of his plate appearances Sunday at Howard J. Lamade Stadium. He singled in the first and scored one out later on Lucas Keldorf's double. Brody Brooks, who led off with a single, also scored on the play.
Lappe walked in the third to load the bases with two outs. Jaxon Kalish, the next batter, singled in Colby Lee and Brooks, who both walked.
El Segundo increased its lead to 5-1 in the fourth when Max Baker led off with a triple and scored one out later on Crew O'Connor's single.
Willemstad tied the score in the fifth inning on Nasir El-Ossais' grand slam.
Boehle replaced starting pitcher Ollie Parks with Kalish after Parks walked Helmir Helmijr on a full-count pitch with one out in the fifth inning. Parks had thrown 74 pitches, 11 short of the maximum. (A pitcher can continue to pitch to the same batter after reaching the limit.)
Kalish walked the first batter he faced, Juan Cleto Ferreras, then was relieved by Baker, who allowed a single by Jayvery Felicia to load the bases. Baker struck out Jay-Dlynn Wiel for the second out, but El-Ossais hit the next pitch for a grand slam.
Willemstad scored its first run in the third. Jay-Dlynn Wiel singled with two outs, advanced to second on El-Ossais' single, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Shemar Sophia Jacobus' single.
Brooks, the last of four El Segundo pitchers, was credited with the victory, pitching a hitless sixth inning, walking one and striking out two.
Wiel, the second Willemstad pitcher, was charged with the loss, allowing two runs and four hits in 2 1/3 innings, striking out six and walking one.
Sean Serverie, the Willemstad starter, allowed four runs and three hits in 2 2/3 innings, struck out five and walked two.
El Segundo had to overcome multiple challenges en route to becoming the fourth Los Angeles County team to win the Little League World Series.
Several players were afflicted with a stomach virus when the World Series began Aug. 17. El Segundo had to win three consecutive games in three days to reach the U.S. championship game after being relegated to the elimination bracket of the modified double-elimination tournament with a 3-1 loss to the all-star team from the Needville (Texas) Little League on Monday.
El Segundo avenged that loss with a 6-1 victory over Needville in the U.S. championship game Saturday.
El Segundo was 20-2 in five tournaments this summer. Its other loss was to the all-star team from the Sherman Oaks Little League, 4-3, in the opening game of the championship series of the Southern California State Tournament on July 31. It won the rematch, 3-2, later that day.
This is second consecutive year Willemstad lost in the championship game. Five players returned from the team that lost to the all-star team from the Honolulu Little League, 13-3, in the 2022 final, in a game called in the fourth inning because of the run rule.
This was the fifth time a team from Curaçao has advanced to the championship game, all from the Pabao Little League. Willemstad won in 2004, but also lost in 2005 and 2019 in addition to 2022 and 2023.
The other Los Angeles County teams to win the Little League World Series were the all-star teams from the Granada Hills National Little League in 1963 and the Long Beach Little League in 1992 and 1993.