By Derek Carlyon
August 28, 2013 (Otay) -- At the start of Little League season, every young player dreams of earning a trip to Williamsport, Pennsylvania to play in the Little League World Series. For 12 young players from San Diego’s own Eastlake Little League in Otay, that dream became a reality.
On Thursday at 6 p.m., a big homecoming is planned for the U.S. champion Eastlake All Stars team at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre.
The team coasted through the early goings of the tournament, highlighted by Grant Holman, towering 6 feet, 4 inches tall, throwing a no-hitter. Micah Pietila-Wiggs established himself as a top hitter in the tourney when they faced a Westport, Connecticut team in the U.S. final. The winner of that game would go on to play a team from Tokyo, Japan to decide who would be crowned World Series champion.
Nick Mora was the star for Eastlake, showing his dominance on the mound early and only giving up one run through five and two-thirds innings. He also belted a three-run homerun. Along with good defense and dominant hitting, Eastlake cruised to a 12-1 victory.
That set up a big finale with Japan. The Japanese team had played good fundamental baseball all tournament long. On the mound for Eastlake was Holman, who just five days earlier had thrown a no hitter. After both teams scored two runs in the first inning, Japan’s Shunpei Takagi led off the third inning with a solo home run, breaking the tie. That would be the first of his two home runs, the second coming in the fifth inning after Giancarlo Cortez singled in Jake Espinoza and Nick Mora to give Eastlake the lead in the inning prior.
After Takagi’s game trying homer in the fifth, his teammates rallied for two more runs later in the inning. That two run deficit proved to be too much for Eastlake, and Japan ultimately came out on top 6-4.
There were some long faces and tears in the Eastlake dugout after the game, but Coach Rick Tibbett put it in perspective.
“It's baseball you know. You lose. You win. We will be playing baseball next weekend,” the coach concluded.