Will Lester/Los Angeles News Group
Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014 | 2 a.m.
One minute, players on the Mountain Ridge Little League team were storming the mound to celebrate their historic victory.
The next, they were on their way to the next stop in their journey of a lifetime: Williamsport, Pa., and the Little League World Series.
Shortly after winning the Western Regional Saturday in San Bernardino, Calif., to become the first Nevada team to qualify for the World Series, the Las Vegas children ages 12 and 13 were traveling to the event.
They took a bus to Los Angeles International Airport, flying in the middle of the night to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. From there, they bused to Williamsport, arriving Sunday about 18 hours later in a destination Nevada leagues have been trying to reach for nearly 70 years.
Mountain Ridge opens at 4 p.m. Thursday against Canyon Lake from Rapid City, S.D., on ESPN2. All games are televised by the ESPN family of networks and played in front of about 20,000 fans.
“It really hasn’t set in yet,” said Mountain Ridge’s Bradley Stone, who went 3 for 3 with a home run in the regional-clinching win against Northern California’s Pacifica.
They spent Monday being fitted for new uniforms, taking physicals and getting settled in the barracks they’ll call home to next two weeks along with the event’s other 15 teams. They’ve already started making friendships with players from Japan and Australia.
“It’s a dream come true. To be the first team ever in history from the state of Nevada, it’s a honor,” said Ashton Cave, the Mountain Ridge manager. “It’s a great responsibility to represent this state. We are happy for the challenge.”
They spent one week in Reno for the state tournament, two weeks in San Bernardino and will be in Williamsport the next two weeks.
At the World Series, they each received custom Oakley sunglasses, and Easton bats and bat bags. They also received a recorded congratulatory message from big-leaguer and Las Vegas native Bryce Harper, and plenty of support on Twitter from politicians and other Las Vegas notables.
The best part, though, has been going through the experience with close friends in a baseball experience children worldwide can only dream of being part of.
“We don’t fight. We don’t argue. We have a lots of team chemistry,” said Brennan Holligan, a Mountain Ridge pitcher and first baseman. “It’s an unexplainable feeling knowing we are living a dream.”
The dream could just be getting started
In the district, state and Western Regional events, Mountain Ridge hasn’t lost a game. Most games, they score double-digit runs and win by lopsided scores. The representative from the West typically makes a deep run at Williamsport. It’s not far-fetched to assume Mountain Ridge will follow suit.
“The kids’ confidence is high,” Cave said. “It’s great to see the self-esteem of these young men change. They’ve learned in life that when you put in hard work, a good outcome will come.”