El Segundo wins Little League World Series on thrilling walk-off

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
The kids from California defeat Willemstad, Curaçao in an instant classic to become the 2023 Little League World Series champions.

El Segundo’s Louis Lappe had already been the player of the tournament even before he stepped up to the plate to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning.

After taking one pitch from Curaçao pitcher Jay Dlynn Wiel, Lappe launched a fastball deep into the Williamsport sky to clinch the world championship for El Segundo.

The game was turned on it’s head the previous inning, when Curaçao’s Nasir El-Ossais hit a game-tying, momentum swinging grand slam that erased a 5-1 El Segundo lead in the bottom of the fifth. At that point, El Segundo was just four outs away from winning the title in far less dramatic fashion.

El Segundo struck first in the opening inning when catcher Lucas Keldorf hit a two-run double off the wall. Curaçao got one back themselves the next inning to cut the deficit to 2-1, before California rallied to extend their lead to 5-1.

West Region catcher Lucas Keldorf (9) reacts after a two run double in the first inning against the Caribbean Region at Lamade Stadium. (Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)

Heading into the sixth inning, the momentum was decidedly in the Curaçao dugout. They managed to get a runner on, but El Segundo pitcher Brody Brooks got the kids from California out of it.

Despite the momentum shift, the threat of Lappe leading off still clearly loomed in heading into the bottom of the sixth. As he stepped up to the plate, broadcaster Karl Ravech warned the audience of what was quite possibly about to happen.

In a cruel twist of fate, Ravech also noted that Curaçao had not yet given up a home run in the tournament just seconds before Lappe sent the fateful pitch out of the ballpark.

Lappe’s walk-off blast was his tournament leading fifth home run.

El Segundo began their run in Williamsport with a 4-3 rain-shortened victory over New Albany, Ohio. Adversity was around the corner in their second game however, as they were sent to the losers bracket after a 3-1 loss to Needville, Texas.

They made their way out of the losers bracket with impressive victories over Smithfield, R.I. and Nolensville, Tennessee, earning them a trip to the United States Championship game on Saturday afternoon. Led by an ensemble cast of Lappe, Brooks and Max Baker, they defeated a talented Seattle team in front of a packed Lamade Stadium to make it to the world championship game.

El Segundo becomes the eighth team from California to win the Little League World Series, the first since Ocean View Little League of Huntington Beach in 2011.