Little League Champs Receive Warm Homecoming

Huntington Beach, Calif., welcomed home its Little League champions Monday night. Parents, friends and supporters turned out at a city park to celebrate their team's victory over Japan.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host: From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host: And I'm Robert Siegel.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHANTING)

SIEGEL: Chants of O-V for Ocean View last night, as Southern California welcomed home its newest celebrities. The young men of Ocean View Little League were greeted with cheers and the pops of flashbulbs in their hometown of Huntington Beach. Ocean View defeated Japan on Sunday to win the Little League World Series and NPR's Amy Walters was there for the celebration.

AMY WALTERS: They literally rolled out the red carpet in the parking lot of Ocean View's home field.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHEERING)

WALTERS: Friends, former teammates and more than 100 fans called out to second baseman Justin Cianca. The team was greeted with flower leis and a swarm of television cameras. When an exhausted Cianca finally made it to the microphone, the crowd had one more reason to celebrate.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD SINGING)

JUSTIN CIANCA: The best birthday ever.

WALTERS: Complete with fireworks.

(SOUNDBITE OF FIREWORKS)

WALTERS: After the ceremony, the players entertained questions from the press while signing baseball hats and even shoes. Eric Anderson signed his share and for good reason - he scored the team's winning run. It was the sixth and final inning, 1-1, and the bases were loaded. Nick Pratto was at bat and the speedy Anderson ran on field to replace the runner on third.

ERIC ANDERSON: I wasn't really thinking. I just like, okay, gotta score here. Just go.

(SOUNDBITE OF BASEBALL GAME)

SPORTS ANNOUNCER: It is over. California wins it. And Huntington Beach, California, captures the Little League World Series championship.

WALTERS: ESPN announcers had the call. What did it feel like to cross home plate?

ANDERSON: I just thinking, we won this game. Like, we won the Little World Series. Dream come true.

WALTERS: Nick Pratto, who hit the ball that brought Anderson home, is still on the East Coast playing more baseball. He was missed last night, especially by these young ladies. You guys have crushes on any of them?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: (All talking at once) Yes. Nick Pratto. (Unintelligible) You should (unintelligible) him, if you can. Yeah, (unintelligible) Taylor, love you. Yeah.

WALTERS: Got that, Nick? Pitcher Braydon Salzman is getting plenty of love as well. He struggled to count the number of girls who wanted to get his picture.

BRAYDON SALZMAN: It's hard. It's hard to say. Like, 50 probably.

WALTERS: Did that used to happen last week?

SALZMAN: Yeah, actually, yeah.

WALTERS: Did that used to happen last month?

SALZMAN: I don't think so.

WALTERS: Amy Walters, NPR News.

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