CHULA VISTA (CNS/CBS8) - A homecoming celebration brought out more than a thousand raucous fans to honor the Eastlake Little League All-Star Team that won the U.S. Championship in this year's Little League World Series before losing the series championship game to a team from Japan.
"We are thrilled to share in the excitement and celebrate the achievement of Eastlake Little League as they bring home the U.S. Championship banner," Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox said.
The free event was held at Sleep Train Amphitheatre, featuring music and entertainment from DJ C-Riz and Channel 93.3's Frankie V, the San Diego Padres Pad Squad and Swingin' Friar, a marching band and cheerleaders.
Baseball Hall of Fame member and former Padres great Tony Gwynn was on hand to pay a special tribute to the boys, and in a show of cross-border camaraderie, invited the members of Mexico's representative in the Little League World Series from Tijuana up on stage.
"I think we can say we are extremely proud of both teams, because you did it the right way," Gwynn said. "You played the game the right way!"
Eastlake won the U.S. Championship by beating their counterparts from Connecticut 12-1 on Saturday in South Williamsport, Pa. 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.
The Padres announced they will honor the Eastlake team Sept. 7 at Petco Park and Municipal de Tijuana Seleccionados Sept. 20.
"Both of these local teams have captivated our region and made all of us proud," Padres President and CEO Mike Dee said. "The entire Padres organization, especially the players, was impressed with not only their extraordinary level of play on the field, but also their resolve and heart. We are thrilled to honor their accomplishments at Petco Park."
The Padres said players from both teams will have the opportunity to meet the big league players and take batting practice on the Major League field. In addition, the teams will be honored in pre-game ceremonies.
The Padres are providing game tickets to players, coaches and families of both teams.
The Tijuana team was the international runner-up to Japan, and defeated Connecticut in the third-place game.