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October 25, 2014

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Little League World Series:

Mountain Ridge fans flock to watch parties to root for hometown team

Image

Sam Morris

Jason McCormick, teammates and parents of Mountain Ridge Little League players cheer as their team hits a late home run while watching the Little League World Series Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 at Red Rock Resort.

Mountain Ridge Little League Viewing Party

Mountain Ridge Little League teammates cheer at the Red Rock Resort after their older teammates won to advance to the finals of the Little League World Series Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. Launch slideshow »

Mountain Ridge Little League Wins

Las Vegas pitcher Brennan Holligan (27) delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against Chicago at the Little League World Series tournament in South Williamsport, Pa., Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Launch slideshow »

Bars are planning watch parties, dedicated fans are streaming games online and a community is coming together.

Don’t be surprised.

Little League has become a big deal in Las Vegas with the success of Mountain Ridge.

The team from northwest Las Vegas will take on the Jackie Robinson West All-Stars from Chicago on Saturday in the Little League World Series.

The winner will be national champions and go on to face the top international team, either South Korea or Japan, in the world championship game Sunday.

The series has brought family and friends together with community members in a wave of support for the boys, the first Nevada team to reach the World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

“I think we've got a good chance of winning,” said Marquis Franklin, a Las Vegan who played in Central Little League as a kid.

At Red Rock Resort’s bowling lanes, Franklin was one of about 40 people who showed up Wednesday to watch Mountain Ridge take on girl pitcher Mo’ne Davis and Philadelphia’s Taney Youth Baseball Association.

Beer in hand, Franklin kept his eyes trained on one of 20 large screens at the back of the bowling lanes.

“I only came for the game, and to have a couple of drinks,” he said.

His girlfriend, Dina Mathey, threw her ball at the pins and reminded Franklin he was next.

“I’m watching the game,” he said, forgetting the score of his bowling match. “Like, it’s history being made.”

He calls it “Little League Mania.”

The Buffalo Wild Wings location at North Durango Drive and the 215 Beltway is the center of the mania, where friends and family of Mountain Ridge’s players gather.

About 100 people packed in during the last game, and the restaurant’s operations general manager, Christina Moore, said she expects 80 to 100 people for Saturday’s U.S. championship game.

“Half an hour before the game actually starts is when we hit the max,” she said.

It’s no surprise.

The restaurant is just a baseball's throw from where the boys practice and has been supporting them by donating 10 percent of the proceeds of all fan purchases to the team.

Predicting the location would be packed, Chad Corbett, who coaches travel baseball team The Bomb Squad, headed to Red Rock alongside some of his players and their parents.

“Most of these boys play travel ball really well, so they’re used to high-level competition,” he said of Mountain Ridge.

Several of Corbett’s players, who are usually 8 or 9, also play in Mountain Ridge Little League.

The kids know and look up to the players on the all-star team.

But right as Corbett launched into a point about Mountain Ridge’s well-rounded players, the big-screen TVs cut out.

A power surge forced the group of about 15 people to huddle around an iPhone streaming the game. When about 30 minutes had gone by, the group headed toward The Wiener’s Circle, a hot dog spot with a view of the sport book’s TVs.

“Walk fast! I gotta see this game,” said Anna McCormick, speed walking out of the bowling lanes, through the sports book to the restaurant alongside fellow mom Jennifer Brown.

They arrived and quietly sat the kids at the food counter as the adults lined up along the border of the sports book.

But the silence didn’t last long.

Mountain Ridge scored five runs in the sixth inning to seal the win at 8-1.

When Austin Kryszczuk appeared on screen, the Bomb Squad boys slowly chanted his name and cheered.

Jennifer Brown said her son, Konner, idolizes Kryszczuk, and the family drove to San Bernardino, Calif., to watch the team play in the Western Regional.

“There’s no other team that deserves it more than these kids,” she said.

When the game ended, she said it felt like a moment of pride for the entire city, which had never before reached this level.

“Who’s left? Us,” she said as the group cheered. “You have to give it to us. You have to give us the credit.”

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