Upon returning from San Bernardino Sunday evening, Pacifica American was reminded of just how much the team meant to its hometown.
The 12 players, three coaches and upwards of 150 fans who embarked on the trip to the Little League Baseball West Regional playoffs 10 days previous were a tad road weary after Pacifica American fell 11-2 to Mountain Ridge in Saturday’s regional championship game.
But the city of Pacifica made certain the green-and-gold caravan was in high spirits upon returning home.
“Just driving into town, you could see banners up on businesses still — congratulations banners,” Pacifica American manager Steve Falk said. “It was pretty neat to come home and see how the community was still pulling for us and still thinking of us.”
Yet the team was evidently already in good spirits, according to Steve Falk. That became apparent to the team’s skipper immediately following Saturday’s loss, which saw the Nevada state champs claim the honor of representing the Western Region at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, which starts Thursday.
As the team lined up for the postgame awards presentation, which crowned Mountain Ridge with the championship banner, the heart of the Pacifica American batting order of Elijah Ricks and Christian Falk had a conversation amid the ceremony about how cool it was that they’d just shared the experience of a lifetime, according to Steve Falk.
“For a kid to say that just after they lost the championship game — I mean, we talked about it, and we had fun,” Steve Falk said.
The evening marked the end of a remarkable week and a half, which started with the boys of Pacifica American emerging as television stars. Their first brush with the TV cameras came the morning of team’s departure, as the CBS News crew and sports anchor Vernon Glenn dispatched to the local hitting school Pacifica Cages to conduct an interview with Steve Falk and shoot some footage of the team.
Once in San Bernardino, it took the team just four games to go national. When the team reached the West Regional semifinal round, the players and coaches were scheduled to show up early last Thursday at Al Houghton Stadium to film introduction segments for ESPN.
Steve Falk was interviewed at length by ESPN commentators Mark Neely and Aaron Boone. And as he always does in everyman style, the down-to-earth Steve Falk kept the experience in perspective.
“[The players] are the reason I’m there,” Steve Falk said. “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to do all this. So, I try to keep it about them. I try to keep it simple.”
Saturday, Mountain Ridge stole the show, and even thrilled the crowd by dancing out front of their third-base dugout before the game. It’s something an ESPN on-field producer encouraged Pacifica American to do prior to Friday’s semifinal game, but the players politely refused.
Ultimately, it was Friday’s semifinal matchup with Hawaii which will be remembered as Pacifica American’s pinnacle achievement in San Bernardino. In winning the first 1-0 game in West Regional play since 2007, starting pitcher Ricks and the smooth play of his defense debuted in the television limelight of ESPN2.
“That Hawaii game, I’ll remember that forever,” Steve Falk said.
And one of the first things he did upon returning home? Steve Falk sat down, cued up the DVR and watched the Pacifica-Hawaii game — his boys’ masterpiece performance.