Ocean View given a hero's welcome


The Ocean View Little League All-Star team received the red carpet treatment upon their return home to Huntington Beach Monday night.

Arriving to chants of "OV," and, "USA," the All-Stars were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd that came out to support the 2011 Little League World Series champions. The players showed their poise as they stood before the gathering, a fireworks display illuminating the backdrop of the team as it stood in front of the league's playing fields at Murdy Park.

Ocean View completed an incredible and unforgettable two-month postseason summer run on Sunday by coming from behind to defeat defending champion Japan, 2-1, at Williamsport, Pa., to become world champion. Ocean View is the first Little League team from Orange County to win the title, second team in three years from California to win it (Park View Little League of Chula Vista, 2009) and seventh from the state, overall, in the 65-year history of the iconic tournament.

"I will say that winning the World Series is great, but it really doesn't compare to this right here," Ocean View Coach Tony Cianca told a crowd of approximately 800 that responded with cheers and whistles. This is unbelievable."

The past two days have been nothing short of a major whirlwind for Ocean View . The All-Stars defeated Japan and then celebrated their milestone victory later Sunday. On Monday, the team traveled to Cleveland and then Houston, before making its stretch run to Los Angeles International Airport and then to its home turf.

Only upon seeing the massive gathering at Murdy Park, did everything begin to sink in for player Justin Cianca.

"I thought that there would be a lot of people here to support us but when we got off the bus, I was shocked," said Cianca who turned 13 Monday. "Once I got off the bus and saw the crowd, that'd when it all hit me, what we had done. It's crazy and incredible, something I won't forget. This is the best birthday ever."

It took one big swing by Steven Kotkosky on Aug. 13, to get Ocean View to Williamsport. His two-run home run in the top of the sixth inning wiped out a 1-0 deficit in the West Regional final against Red Bluff of Northern California, and sent Ocean View to its first World Series.

Kotkosky and his teammates were a big hit during their homecoming.

"It's all been so amazing," the 12-year-old said. "It was so great to meet other teams from around the country and around the world but coming home here, to this, really is the best part. It's something I'll always remember."

Eric Anderson said he barely remembered crossing home plate with the winning run Sunday.

Anderson, a pinch runner, scored from third on Nick Pratto's game-winning hit in the bottom of the sixth inning.

"I was thinking to myself, if Nick gets a base hit, I have to score. I just took off when I saw the ball go to the outfield. I don't remember jumping up like I did, excited that we had won. All I can remember about the play is everybody rushing out of our dugout and getting mugged. It was the best feeling," said Anderson.

Ocean View won District 62, Section 10, Southern California Regional and West Regional tournament championships, to earn its trip to Williamsport.

"It's amazing what these kids have accomplished," Huntington Beach Mayor Joe Carchio said during the homecoming ceremony. "I'm just so proud of what they did not only for Huntington Beach, but for the (Orange) county, the state and the United States of America. These kids set a great example by being great role models and ambassadors for our city. They won their World Series title with timely hitting, great pitching and a superb coaching staff. They played as a team."

Ocean View Manager Jeff Pratto, Coach Jose Martinez and players Hagen Danner, Nick Pratto and Anthony Martinez, were not part of Ocean View's returning entourage Monday night. They traveled by car early Monday from Williamsport to Cooperstown, N.Y. Danner, Nick Pratto and Anthony Martinez play for the So Cal Rebels 12U travel team that is competing this week at the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame Cooperstown Classic tournament at Cooperstown Dreams Park. The tournament started Sunday (Aug. 28) and runs through Sept. 2.

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