After a whirlwind run that took them to state and regional championships and then to the Little League World Series, members of the Pacific All-Stars finally got a chance Tuesday to reflect on all they accomplished.
Monday’s 11-4 loss to Pearland, Texas, ended the season for the 12- and 13-year-olds from Edmonds and Lynnwood. Tyler Durbin, 12, of Edmonds, a key hitter who pitched in the final game, said the experience made for memories “that I’ll remember for a lifetime.”
Mason Vaughn, 12, an outfielder, said he “didn’t get that stressed” playing in the World Series, even with the games being broadcast nationally. “Millions of people were watching,” he said.
Vaughn said he just felt like he was playing at the team’s home field in Lynnwood’s Lynndale Park. “I just kept my cool and just went out and played my hardest,” he said.
Vaughn said he got to meet the some of the star players he had been hearing about from teams across the nation. “When they’re out there (on the field), they’re like celebrities,” he said. “When they’re in the dorm, they’re just like regular kids.”
Vaughn said that his favorite memory of the team’s season was winning the regional championships, the game that sent to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, for the Little League World Series — the second team from Snohomish County to participate in the event.
His father, Chad Vaughn, of Edmonds, said that as an 11-year-old his son was a member of the All-Star team that placed second at the state tournament last year.
“We kind of felt like we could do it this year, but it still felt like a pipe dream,” he said. “We felt we had the talent, but you have to have luck to go with the talent.”
There was disappointment when the team was eliminated with Monday’s loss to Texas, but as the hours passed “it seemed like it was sinking in on what they had done,” he said.
Robley Corsi Jr., the team’s coach, said that playing Little League World Series games was almost secondary to the fun team members have been having meeting other players. The team finished their Series play with a 1-2 record. “The memories for me is they did it together and they did it as a team,” he said.
The Pacific All-Stars spent Tuesday away from the ball fields, touring Hershey’s chocolate factory and the company’s nearby theme park. The rest of the week will be spent on day trips, an exhibition game and “just hanging out and rooting the teams on,” he said. Pacific is scheduled to leave Pennsylvania on Monday.
Nate King, 12, said the team’s goal was to make it to the Little League World Series. They not only accomplished that but were able to pull out a win in one of the three games they played, defeating South Dakota. “But at the same time, we’re kind of bummed that our Little League career is over,” King said.
Winning the regional championship meant “we were going onto one of the biggest stages in baseball,” he said. “That was one of the happiest days of my life, if not the happiest.”
King’s mother, April Zepeda of Edmonds, said that teams are given the option of leaving Pennsylvania after being eliminated. As a team, they decided they would all stay through the end of the series to see the championship game on Sunday, she said. “They’ve made friends on other teams,” Zepeda said. “Nobody wanted to leave.”
Team members were sequestered from their families while participating in the Little League World Series, so parents who were able to make the trip to Pennsylvania were happy to “have the day with our boys” on Tuesday. Even at the regional playoffs in California, family members only got to see team members for an hour a day, she said.
Zepeda said that the team felt the community’s strong support in daily emails, Facebook posts and Tweets. More than $20,000 has been raised on a fund-raising website to help families with the travel expenses of the regional playoffs and the World Series.
A welcome-home celebration and final fundraiser has been tentatively scheduled Aug. 27 at their home field of Lynndale Park. The team will get a joint proclamation congratulating them on their success from the cities of Edmonds and Lynnwood, said Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling.
The team’s disappointment at losing, and the end of their season, is short-lived, Zepeda said.
“I think when you realize that you’re one of the best teams in the world, no matter how you do in the actual Series, you still come out feeling like a winner,” she said. “The boys are really in good spirits. They’re happy. They realize they’ve accomplished something really big. It has truly been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.