The Little League champion of the world will be crowned on Sunday, and there’s a chance for a local team to write their name in the history books.
The El Segundo 12U All Stars have progressed to the international championship of the 2023 Little League World Series, which includes a bracket for teams around the world and a separate bracket for teams representing different regions of America.
El Segundo is representing the West region of the United States in this year’s edition of the tournament. Their 6-1 victory over the Southwest region (out of Needville, Texas) in the U.S. championship on Saturday avenged their loss to the team earlier in the tournament and secured their spot in the championship game against the competition’s best international team.
That team – representing the Caribbean region – hails from Willemstad, Curaçao. Like their Californian counterparts, they have also lost only once in the tournament and clinched a berth in the championship game on Saturday with a 2-0 win over the Asia-Pacific region team, who they lost to earlier in the tournament.
And while the game is set to take place in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, locals in El Segundo are going all out cheering on the group of hometown boys.
“We’ve always considered ourselves a baseball town, but this has really taken it to another level,” said Jamin Griffiths, who serves as the president of the El Segundo Little League. “It’s just blowing up…everyone is a supporter [and] there’s signs up around town, and they lit up the water tower blue and yellow for the league.”
The boys are also getting support from big leaguers, with Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman taking to Twitter to cheer the team on before the U.S. Championship game.
“How can this get any better than what it already is for these kids and this town?” Griffiths asked.
Griffiths predicts that if the boys win, it will be celebrated like a major league trophy.
“I can’t imagine how crazy it will be if they win today…cars may be overturned,” he said. “That’s the level of excitement going on within the town.”
A jumbotron will be set up at George Brett Field in El Segundo for the community to come out and watch the game together, according to city officials.
“Since we couldn’t fly the whole town out to Williamsport, we are bringing Williamsport here,” said El Segundo City Councilmember Ryan Baldino.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help the families of the players pay for expenses related to traveling and remaining at the Little League World Series, and several restaurants are also donating portions of their proceeds from watch parties to the families to help offset costs.
“It’s a long summer of baseball that gets really expensive,” Griffiths said. “Then they have to travel to Williamsport last minute and people are taking two weeks off work…[families] could really use the help.”
To donate to the GoFundMe, click here.
The El Segundo Little League 12U All Stars will take on the Willemstad, Curaçao-based Pabao Little League at 12:30 p.m. PT
They hope to join the likes of fellow SoCal Little League World Series champions from Chula Vista and Huntington Beach, who secured their championship rings in 2009 and 2011 respectively.
Before 2009, the last California team to win the LLWS was a team out of Long Beach, who won back-to-back titles in 1992 and 1993.