Baseball fever was buzzing in the air Aug. 30 as Chula Vista, California and Taoyuan, Taiwan battled for the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Being that 1993’s Long Beach team was the last to win the world championship for California and Taiwan was a 17-time championship winner, Chula Vista’s Little League Blue Bombers seemed anything but triumphant material. If the Blue Bombers had never before felt pressure to put on a good a show, this was it.
Taiwan cruised through the first two innings, holding Chula Vista only to one hit. And after back-to-back home runs from Wen Hua Sung and Chen Ou that left the Bombers with a 3-1 deficit, it only seemed to aggravate disaster. But as the fourth inning unfolded, a familiar theme of “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” resonated Lamade Stadium as “the little team that could” came up to bat.
The mighty Blue Bombers gave a thrilling clutch fourth inning performance in which they racked in 3 runs, beginning with Jensen Petersen’s single followed by a pinch-hit double by Nick Conlin. With no outs, Seth Godfrey hit a sac fly to bring Petersen home, cutting the lead to 3-2. Andy Rios hit a single to push runners up to first and third. A wild pitch tied the game, advancing Rios to second. After Blue Bomber pitcher Kiko Garcia struck out for the second out, Bulla Graft singled to score the go-ahead run, sealing the deal for a 4-3 lead. The Bombers fired back in the fifth inning for two more runs to make it 6-3. A dazzling Kiko Garcia returned to the mound to pitch 3.1 scoreless innings in relief, in which he struck out a whopping six batters as a fitting end to a dynamic game of baseball.
Even though the game looked daunting in the third inning, Kiko Garcia insists team pride was still in the air: “We knew we could come back because we knew we could hit any type of pitching.” With the Bombers taking charge, they blasted on right past Taiwan to not only prove themselves as competitors, but re-inspire hope in a city largely unnoticed because of San Diego’s prosperity. Now, six runs, a trophy, and millions of cheers later they have a reason to stand out.