California wins Little League World Series on walk-off HR

August 27th, 2023
California's win marked the fifth consecutive time a U.S. team has won the title. (Getty Images)

Louis Lappe hit more home runs than any player at the 2023 Little League Baseball World Series. His fifth and final dinger came on the final swing of the tournament Sunday and put California on top of the Little League world once again.

The 6-foot-1 third baseman crushed a walk-off home run in the sixth inning to lift his team from El Segundo, Calif., past Curaçao, 6-5, in Williamsport, Pa.

California won five consecutive elimination games to claim its eighth Little League World Series title, the most of any state since the championship game was introduced in 1947.

The 12-year-old heaved his bat to the sky as he made his way down the first-base line. He skipped around the bases before leaping onto home plate, securing California’s first Little League World Series title since 2011.

“I was just looking for a good pitch to hit,” Lappe said. "My mentality was just get the next guy up. If we’d kept doing that we would have won anyway, but I’ll take the homer.”

After California leadoff hitter Brody Brooks pitched a scoreless top of the sixth, Lappe opened the bottom of the inning by getting every bit of a 1-0 pitch from Jay-Dlynn Wiel.

Brooks and Lappe helped California grab a 2-0 lead in the first inning as they both scored on Lucas Keldorf’s double that hopped off the center-field wall.

Brooks and Lappe batted .647 (22-for-34) across California’s seven games in Williamsport. Brooks led all players with 12 hits and tied a Little League World Series record with 13 runs scored. Besides his five home runs, Lappe paced all players with 10 RBIs. 

Curaçao pushed a run across in the top of the third before Jaxon Kalish extended California’s advantage with a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the frame. Crew O’Connor added an RBI single in the fourth.

Curaçao reached its second straight championship game after beating Taiwan on Saturday for the international title. On Sunday, Taiwan defeated Texas, 10-0, in the third-place game. 

Taiwan was led by Fan Chen-Jun, who touched 80 mph on the mound -- equivalent to more than 100 mph in the Majors -- en route to striking out nine over four innings in a game that was shortened by the 10-run rule. He also slugged a three-run homer and picked up an RBI single.

Lappe’s heroics followed a thrilling comeback by Curaçao, the back-to-back international champions. Trailing 5-1, Curaçao tied the game in a flash when Nasir El-Ossaïs launched a grand slam with two outs in the top of the fifth.