Described as close-knit, the Lemon Grove Little League's Senior League All-Stars understand the ties that bind. The teenagers are more than teammates, say supporters, they're brothers, cousins, and friends who have known each other a lifetime.
And on Saturday, the Senior League U.S. Champions played—and lost—together, not just as a team but as family.
Charles Garcia, vice president of the Lemon Grove Little League, said it was hard watching the team's 6-3 loss to Guatemala in the Senior League World Series championship.
“When I saw Nico (Alcoser) crying, it nearly broke my heart,” Garcia said.
About 125 family members, friends and supporters gathered Saturday morning at Boll Weevil to cheer on the hometown heroes, who were undefeated in pool play and took the semifinal game against Texas 6-1. And even in the face of defeat, the crowd cheered for their opponents when Guatemala took to the field to celebrate the victory.
Josie Estrada said it's been an “amazing couple of weeks” for her stepson, Alex Estrada, who also plays varsity baseball for Grossmont High School. She said the 15-year-old shortstop's dad, Alex, and mom, Lisa Oliver, were in Bangor, Maine, with him for the tournament. She called the loss heartbreaking.
“They're still the U.S. champions,” she said. “They fought hard, and they came a long way.”
Lemon Grove—which also includes players from Mount Miguel High School and Helix Charter High School—got its first run in the second inning.
But Guatemala came on big in the third, scoring three runs, and holding Lemon Grove back through the fourth and fifth. The Latin America team brought in three more runners in the sixth, and a double by Frankie Nunez brought the score to 6-3.
In the end, Guatemala just hit better, Garcia said.
“It's tough, but that's the way baseball is,” he said.
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