Former little league world champs continue their success

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - Jessica Sanchez has brought the spotlight to Chula Vista. The last time the South Bay city received so much attention, a group of 12-year-old boys were swinging through the Little League World Series.

The Park View Little League All-Stars brought home a world title after one magical week in South Williamsport, PA at the end of August in 2009.

“When we get older, we should just always talk about it because it's a great memory,” said Andy Rios, who played shortstop for the PVLL team. “I’m not going to lie. It's just an awesome experience.”

Like 10 of his 11 Park View Little League All-Star teammates, Rios continues to play baseball. He now starts at shortstop for Mater Dei High School.  Nick Conlin also plays baseball and varsity basketball at Mater Dei.

Big Luke Ramirez helped PVLL earn the nickname "The Blue Bombers" as they set a Little League World Series record for home runs by hitting 19 in six games.

Now listed at 6-feet, 3-inches and 200 pounds, the sophomore at Eastlake High School plays baseball for the Titans but said he missed most of this season with a dislocated elbow.

Kiko Garcia struck out the final batter of the World Series in the victory over Chinese Tapei in the championship game and hasn't stopped pitching. The following summer, he earned a bronze medal with the 14 and under U.S. team at the Pan Am games. He now pitches for St. Augustine High School and has already accepted a scholarship to Pepperdine University.

Infielder Seth Godfrey went 8-for-15 during the LLWS and drove in seven runs. As a sophomore, he now plays baseball at Bonita Vista High School.  He said his PVLL experience taught him a simple, but valuable, lesson.

“Hard work pays off,” Godfrey said. “We had been working so hard like the past three years and it just all paid off in the end.”

Oscar Castro, Bradley Roberto and Daniel Porras reunited Tuesday afternoon at the Park View Little League field.

Castro plays varsity football and baseball at the Rock, Roberto plays baseball at Olympian High School and Porras football and baseball at Mater Dei. As they caught up, they also reminisced about their favorite moments after they won the world series.

"The homecoming," Castro said. "They told us to expect family and friends, and all the bleachers at Southwestern College were filled."

"Meeting President Obama," Porras said. "Because, he's the president."

"Getting to play at Petco Park," Roberto said. "And (dinner at) Donovan's with Adrian (Gonzalez)."

Jensen Peterson is the only PVLL All-Star to no longer play baseball. He has turned his focus to playing middle linebacker for the Otay Ranch football team and is going through spring practice with the Mustangs. The freshman still thinks about his baseball experience.

“I was thinking about how crazy it is because my whole life I was never imagining to be like, to ever make it that far,” Peterson said. “I didn`t know about the Little League World Series until that year before we went and then when I saw it, I was like, 'Dang, that`s crazy, how can you even make it there.' And then we ended up making it.”

Marcus Melin also goes to Otay Ranch and played junior varsity baseball for the Mustangs.

The third Otay Ranch student is Isaiah Armenta. After winning the LLWS, he teamed with Rios and Bulla Graft to win the Pony League World Series in 2010.

Graft, a freshman at the Bishop's School and the Knights’ leading hitter, and also the leading rusher for the varsity football team last fall, said the LLWS experience prepared him to handle almost anything, and he offers this advice to Jessica Sanchez, the next big thing to hit Chula Vista.

“For her, just keep your head high,” Graft said. “Whatever happens, just keep up and push through it.”

Spoken like a true champion.

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