Bedlam erupts at the Rock and Brews restaurant in El Segundo as their local boys clinched the Little League World Series championship with walk-off home run. (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)


EL SEGUNDO.– They spilled out of restaurants, bars and apartments onto Main Street, shouting and hugging as passing cars honked and flashed their headlights.

The small city just south of LAX is celebrating atop the youth sports world today, as its team of local All-Stars returns from South Williamsport, Penn., with the 2023 Little League World Series championship trophy in tow.

The team of a dozen 12-year-olds won the final game in dramatic fashion on Sunday, with batting star Louis Lappe clubbing a walk-off home run in the bottom of the sixth and final inning to defeat the team from Willemstad, Curacao-based Pabao Little League, 6-5.

The boys of El Segundo were arriving home Monday afternoon to a heroes’ welcome, and were scheduled to be driven in a caravan down Main Street “like rock stars,” according to a post on the El Segundo Little League’s Facebook page.

Pitcher-infielder Max baker (left) celebrates with teammate Lucas Keldorf. Baker is the grandson of former JACCC Chairman Tom Iino. (Courtesy Little League Baseball)

The honors – and public appearances – are just beginning for the champs. They are scheduled to be recognized on the field before Tuesday’s game at Dodgers Stadium, and a championship parade celebrating the team is set for Main Street on Sept. 10, the league had already announced on Saturday.

At the team’s home field Sunday, a huge television screen was set up for hundreds of fans who brought lawn chairs and picnic blankets to watch and cheer on the local boys. Just a few blocks away, eateries and watering holes were packed with spectators who hung on every play during the superbly played game.

“This is such proud moment, for these boys and this community,” said an ecstatic Myhien Layne, who was among the standing-room-only crowd at the Rock and Brews restaurant on Main. “They’ve really brought this whole town together, and they’re only 12 years old.”

Louis Lappe

Layne said her son, who is a younger player in El Segundo Little League, now has his sights set on following in the footsteps of this year’s championship team.

One young fan at the restaurant was brought to tears after the dramatic game-ending home run.

“Since they’re now the international champions, I guess next are Venus and Mars,” said 11-year-old Bodhi Campbell. He and other players in the area have been beneficiaries of baseball coaching from Charlie Nootbaar, father of El Segundo native and St. Louis Cardinals star Lars Nootbaar.

Lappe, who hit his series-leading fifth home run in the seven games his team played, 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.

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.

11-year-old Bodhi Campbell is brought to ters after the El Segundo Little Leaguers’ dramatic walk-off victory on Sunday. (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)

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.

That set the stage for Lappe’s game-ending heroics.

“I was just looking for a good pitch,” Lappe told ABC after  the electrifying victory. “My mentality was just get the next guy up and if we kept doing that, we would have won either way, but I’ll take the homer.”

El Segundo manager Danny Boehle told ABC he was “shocked” the Curacao team pitched to Lappe, given his stunning performance at the plate throughout the tournament. “But again, in baseball, you can’t put the winning run on first base no matter what, so they pitched to him.”

Kumi Nootbaar, mother of El Segundo native and St. Louis Cardinals star Lars Nootbaar, cheers after the local boys scored their first runs in the title game. A large gathering of fans was held at George Brett Field, the home of El Segundo Little League.

The home run was the first Willemstad allowed in its six World Series games.

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.

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.

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 10-run rule.

This was the fifth time a team from Curacao 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.

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