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Homecoming celebration Thursday for Eastlake Little League All-Stars

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(News 8 Photo/Ann Marie Spaulding) (News 8 Photo/Ann Marie Spaulding)
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CHULA VISTA (CNS) - The Eastlake Little League All-Star Team is expected home Monday afternoon and a homecoming celebration for the U.S. champions is planned for later this week at Sleep Train Amphitheatre.

The team's plane lands at LAX at 2:30 p.m.

The homecoming party is scheduled for Thursday. Parking lots will open at 5 p.m., gates open at 6 p.m. with festivities starting at 7 p.m. Eastlake Little League merchandise will be available for purchase and concession stands will be open.

The team was six outs away from winning Sunday's Little League World Series Championship Game but allowed three runs in the fifth inning in a 6-4 loss to the team representing the Musashi Fuchu Little League of Tokyo at South Williamsport, Pa.

Shunpei Takagi led off the fifth with his second home run of the game. The next batter, Takuma Gomi singled to center. Kyousuke Kobayashi had an infield hit one out later. The runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch by Rickey Tibbett and both scored on Ryusei Hirooka's double.

Eastlake had taken a 4-3 lead in the fourth when Giancarlo Cortez singled in Jake Espinoza, who singled, and Nick Mora, who was hit by a pitch.

Takagi's leadoff homer in the third gave Musashi Fuchu a 3-2 lead.

Both teams scored twice in the first.

Eastlake's leadoff hitter, Micah Pietila-Wiggs was hit by a pitch from Kazuki Ishida, moved to third on Espinoza's double and scored on a passed ball by Hirooka, the Musashi Fuchu catcher. Grant Holman singled in Espinoza with the second run.

Musashi Fuchu, which won the coin toss and was the home team, combined two walks, a single by Gomi and an error by Espinoza, the Eastlake center fielder, for its two first-inning runs.

Eastlake twice failed to score when it had the bases loaded. Eastlake loaded the bases with two outs in the second when Mora was hit by a pitch, but Holman struck out to end the inning.

Eastlake loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth on a walk and error and single. Patrick Archer tried to score on a fly ball, but was thrown out at the plate by Gomi, the Musashi Fuchu left fielder. Mora struck out for the third out.

"It's baseball you know," said Eastlake manager Rick Tibbett, the father of Ricky Tibbett. "You lose. You win. We will be playing baseball next weekend."

Eastlake, which had won 22 of its 23 games in five tournaments entering Sunday's play, was seeking to become the third San Diego County team to win the Little League World Series, joining the 1961 team from the El Cajon-La Mesa Northern Little League, whose roster included future NFL quarterback Brian Sipe, and the 2009 team from Park View Little League in Chula Vista.

Two other San Diego County teams lost in the Little League World Series Championship Game -- squads representing the La Mesa Northern Little League in 1957 and El Cajon Western Little League in 1977.

This was the second consecutive year a team from Japan has won the Little League World Series. A team from California or Japan has won the Little League World Series for five consecutive years.

The championship was the second for Musashi Fuchu manager Masumi Omae, who also guided a team representing the league to the 2003 title.

"The 2013 players definitely know how to have fun and at time have too much fun," Omae said through an interpreter. "But overall, each player on the 2013 team brought more to the team than the 2003 team."

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