Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Talented kids are up to Challenge at LLWS

MLB.com

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Playing in front of a raucous crowd made up of parents, friends and several of this year's Little League World Series teams -- including Australia and the Northwest Region's Walla Walla Valley Little League -- the Challenger Division squads from Freehold Township, N.J., and Riverside, R.I., got a chance to showcase their talent, pride and spirit Saturday.

The Challenger Program, according to the league's website, is Little League's adaptive baseball program for individuals with physical and intellectual challenges. 

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Playing in front of a raucous crowd made up of parents, friends and several of this year's Little League World Series teams -- including Australia and the Northwest Region's Walla Walla Valley Little League -- the Challenger Division squads from Freehold Township, N.J., and Riverside, R.I., got a chance to showcase their talent, pride and spirit Saturday.

The Challenger Program, according to the league's website, is Little League's adaptive baseball program for individuals with physical and intellectual challenges. 

"The Challenger Division Exhibition Game is one of the highlight events held each year during Championship Weekend at the Little League Baseball World Series, and we are excited to welcome these two programs to participate this year," said Stephen D. Keener, Little League president and CEO.

With special guest and Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson serving as a base coach, the two teams impressed the Little League World Series teams in attendance with their skill and obvious love for the game.

"These kids are really talented," said Walla Walla Valley's Landon Welter. "Seeing how they fight and enjoy everything and never get down, it's very special."

For the Challenger players themselves, it was a great experience to have a crowd cheering them on, and being able to play in such a revered baseball sanctuary such as Williamsport.

"My favorite moment was when I got that hit," said Mike Apricena, who recorded one of the longest base hits of the game. "It was cool to hear the fans cheering, that they care about me and root for me. Williamsport is such a beautiful place, with its mountains and river. It's very baseball oriented, and just feels great to be here."

Orioles relief pitcher Brad Brach, a native of Freehold, N.J., recorded a special video message encouraging his fellow Jersey natives.

Tweet from @LittleLeague: .@Orioles pitcher Brad Brach with a message to his hometown Challenger team for their game during the #LLWS pic.twitter.com/De17JAeGbV

Jake Schwartzstein is an editor for Major League Baseball.