SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Louis Lappe hit a walk-off homer and California beat Curacao 6-5 in the Little League World Series championship on Sunday, despite giving up a four-run lead.
Louis flipped his bat and threw his arms in the air as he trotted around the bases, leaping onto home plate before he was greeted by his teammates surrounding the batter’s box. The leadoff hitter in the bottom of the sixth inning, Louis lofted the second pitch he saw just beyond the left field fence.
Curacao tied the game in the fifth on Nasir El-Ossais’s grand slam to center. Nasir also drove in a run in the third.
Jaxon Kalish and Lucas Keldorf drove in two runs each for California.
It was the first trip to the final for the team from El Segundo, a community in the Los Angeles area. California’s eight titles are the most by any U.S. state.
Curacao, a small island off the coast of Venezuela that is home to just 150,000 residents, has represented the international side of the bracket in the championship the last three times non-U.S. teams have competed – in 2019, 2022 and this year – but has lost each time.
There was no tournament in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 tournament was limited to American teams because of travel restrictions.
Curacao returned five players and its coaching staff from the team that lost 13-3 to Hawaii in the 2022 final.
Both California and Curacao took a loss during the tournament and had to work their way through the elimination bracket to the final. With pitch counts mounting across the rosters, each turned to less experienced LLWS starters.
Crew O’Connor drove in a run for El Segundo with a single to left field that followed Max Baker’s triple in the fourth, giving California a 5-1 advantage.
Seth Engle is a student in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State.