Christmas came early for the Pacific Little League baseball team.
Just two days after defeating Oregon 6-3 in a regional championship game, the All-Stars found themselves in Williamsport, Penn., as the Northwest’s representative in the Little League World Series. Pacific, which is comprised of 12- and 13-year-olds from Lynnwood, Edmonds and unincorporated Snohomish County, was welcomed to the Northeast with a bunch of new gear, including uniforms, Oakley sunglasses, baseball bats, cleats, backpacks and pads.
“It’s like Christmas times 50,” Pacific manager Robley Corsi, Jr. said. “It’s been a whirlwind, We’ve gone nonstop since we got up. There’s (new) uniforms, badges, headshots, media stuff — it’s the life of a big leaguer.”
The All-Stars are hoping to continue their old ways in their new gear. Dating back to the state Little League tournament, Pacific has won 12 straight games. It went 6-0 at the regionals in San Bernardino, Calif., punctuated by its second win of the tournament over Oregon in the regional championship. Pacific gets its first Little League World Series test at noon Thursday when it takes on Jackie Robinson West Little League, the Great Lakes regional champion out of Chicago.
The All-Stars are guaranteed at least three games in Williamsport.
“I think our team has momentum,” said Robley Corsi, III, a catcher and outfielder for Pacific. “…I think it was our dream to go to the Little League World Series and it came true.”
“I think we’re going to get rolling right here at the right time,” said Corsi, Jr, his son’s manager. “We steadily got better at regionals and now I’m just hoping we explode. We just got to keep that thing rolling. Keep … that … thing … rolling.”
A big part of Pacific’s success has been the hitting of Tyler Durbin. Durbin, who also pitches for the All-Stars, was 10-for-15 (.667 average) in the regional tournament.
Said coach Corsi: “Tyler Durbin has been absolutely phenomenal at the plate.”
The utility player, who said he has “played pretty much every position” this season, hopes his streak continues in Williamsport.
“When my team’s doing great, I just feel the same way,” Durbin said. “I’m excited I started to hit.”
Pitcher Ian Michael also has been key for the All-Stars. Michael pitched a complete game in the second win against Oregon, striking out nine to help his team advance to Pennsylvania.
“Everybody has contributed,” coach Corsi said. “We’ve been on.”
Heavy rain altered Pacific’s practices Tuesday and Wednesday. Corsi Jr. gave the team Monday off after it spent 19 hours traveling from San Bernardino to Williamsport — including a cross-country flight to New York and a 5½-hour bus ride. The team got its gear and did some media interviews on Monday and participated in the Grand Slam Parade Wednesday evening.
“It’s like a dream come true,” Durbin said. “It’s like I’m in heaven. It’s wonderful. I don’t even know if it’s sunk in to half of our players that we’re playing in the Little League World Series, but we’re just trying to embrace it and have fun with it.”
Coach Corsi said that he hopes to keep his players loose despite all the extra attention. But even he has been caught up in the atmosphere.
“I walked in to the field (Sunday) night at 11:30, or whatever time it was. The lights were on. Just the setting is phenomenal,” he said. “This is the epitome of Little League baseball. How do you not get nervous? It’s just another baseball game. Nothing changes. Once we get out there, we just go out and play baseball. Forget about everything else.”
More than anything, Corsi Jr. and Pacific Little League president Doug Sheldon want the players to enjoy the experience.
“We’re here to win our baseball games, but they’re 12- and 13-year old boys,” Sheldon said. “I just hope they enjoy the experience and go away saying, ‘Wow. We’re one of eight teams in Little League in the U.S. to get to come here.’ What an honor. Winning is great, but it’s the team that got to come together and enjoy the whole overall experience that’s special.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that not a lot of kids get to experience. The rest of their life they’re going to say, ‘I got to play in the Little League World Series.’”
Although, the players wouldn’t mind leaving Williamsport with a victory or two.
“Win a game. That’s all I want,” Corsi III said.
Said Durbin: “We’re riding a lot of momentum into this and if we get some momentum going down here I think we have a good chance of competing.”