Louis Labbe hit a homer and California upset Curacao 6-5 in the World Series for the minor league championship on Sunday, despite giving up a four-run lead
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, PA – Minor league students everywhere dream of a moment like this.
Lewis flipped his bat, threw his arms in the air as he meandered around the bases, and jumped onto home plate as he was greeted by teammates surrounding the batter’s box. Leading batter in the bottom of the sixth inning, Lewis lifted a second pitch that saw him behind the left field fence.
“It’s a very unique feeling that maybe only five people or less have in their lives,” said Lewis, who finished the tournament with five players, the most of any player. “I feel good. It’s hard to get over this feeling. I don’t know what makes me happier.”
Curacao tied the game at 5th after a grand slam by Naser Al-Asis scored in the middle, which led to a frantic celebration by the players, coaches and Curacao fans on the third base side of Lamad Stadium. Nasser also drove the car in the third round.
Jackson Kalisz and Lukas Keldorf drove at two rounds each in California.
“The five players I have at the top of the squad are as good as anyone else in this tournament,” said El Segundo coach Danny Buhl. “I stand by that wholeheartedly.”
This was the first trip to the final for the team from El Segundo, a community in the Los Angeles area. California’s eight titles is the most of any US state.
Curacao, a small island off the coast of Venezuela with a population of just 150,000, has represented the international side of the tournament bracket the last three times non-US teams have competed — in 2019, 2022 and this year — but haven’t been able to do so. lost every time.
There was no tournament in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 tournament was restricted to US teams due to travel restrictions.
And Curacao brought back five players and his coaching staff from the team that lost 13-3 to Hawaii in the 2022 final.
“I already ate cake last year. “I ate cake this year too, but I won’t take the cherry home,” Curacao coach Zino Everett said after the match with tears in his eyes.
California and Curacao both lost during the tournament and had to fight their way through the elimination bracket to the final. As the number of pitches across the rosters increased, each turned to less experienced LLWS starters.
Crew O’Connor drove in a run for El Segundo on fourth down with a single to left field that followed Max Baker’s triple, giving California a 5–1 advantage. It got bumpy from there, but California came out on top.
“What we did may not happen again in the history of El Segundo,” Buhl said.
Penn State Governor Josh Shapiro was at the game, and he was joined by 2014 LLWS promotion sensation Mo’ne Davis. This August will mark 10 years since Davis became the first player to win a tournament match, helping Philadelphia’s Thane Little League reach the semi-finals in the United States.
“We’re really proud of her at Penn State,” Shapiro said.
Tribute to Stuart Scott
The late Stuart Scott was the 62nd person enshrined in the Little League Hall of Excellence prior to Sunday’s tournament final. Scott has been recognized for his support of the Little League World Series while at ESPN.
ESPN is the broadcast partner of the Little League and has broadcast 337 games across all divisions of play this season.
Spencer Rebcheck contributed to this report. He and Seth Engel are students at the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism in Penn State.
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