Feeling healthy, confident and smiling with every victory, El Segundo will end its historic summer baseball run by playing for a world championship Sunday.
El Segundo won the U.S. championship at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., on Saturday, 6-1 over Texas. It was the team’s fourth consecutive victory in an elimination game. El Segundo will play in Sunday’s noon final against international champion Curacao. The game will be broadcast on ABC.
Since El Segundo launched its league in 1954, no team has come this far. Watch parties have been springing up all around the close-knit beach community of nearly 17,000 known for its small-town charm next to Los Angeles International Airport.
The stars once again were shortstop Brody Brooks and pitcher-infielder Louis Lappe. They were a combined five for six with two home runs to avenge their only loss in the tournament. Brooks delivered a leadoff home run in the first inning and came through with his 10th and 11th hits of the tournament. Lappe contributed a two-run single in the third, a three-run home run in the fifth and recorded 10 strikeouts with one walk in 5-1/3 innings. Brooks recorded the final two outs.
“It’s just an incredible run for this team,” manager Danny Boehle said in a televised interview.
Over six games, Brooks has 11 hits in 14 at-bats with three home runs. Lappe, who bats behind Brooks, has eight hits in 16 at-bats with four home runs. They have combined for 14 RBIs.
“Confidence is a big part of it,” Brooks said.
The first inning proved decisive. Texas had two runners aboard with two outs against Lappe when left fielder Ollie Parks made a running catch of a hard-hit ball to end the inning. Then Brooks hit his leadoff home run against Texas’ DJ Jablonski, who held Brooks hitless in two at-bats Monday during a 3-1 El Segundo loss.
Boehle said the team’s attitude all summer has been to focus on the ultimate goal.
“They know we’re on a mission,” he said of his players. “Until this is really over, then we’ll celebrate.”
El Segundo showed up at Williamsport with players picking up a stomach virus after winning the West Regional in San Bernardino. Once healthy, there have been many contributors, from catcher Lucas Keldorf’s great defense to pitching from Declan McRoberts, Jaxon Kalish and Max Baker.
In the international final, Curacao upset Chinese Taipei 2-0 to reach the championship game for the second consecutive season. Helmir Helmijr gave up one hit in 5-1/3 innings.
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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.