Baseball fans pour into San Bernardino for Western Region Little League tourney – San Bernardino County Sun




DEVORE >> Victor Perez, his two younger brothers and his four nephews made the long haul from Escondido to this rural unincorporated community northwest of San Bernardino on Sunday morning to spend the day watching Little League baseball.

As a boy, Perez, 45, of Borrego Springs, played Little League from age 9 to 12. He went on to play on his high school baseball team as well. He never lost interest in the sport, a family tradition of sorts.

“I’m just a fan. This is my first time in San Bernardino,” said Perez, sitting with his four nephews under a portable canopy erected on the concrete steps of the Albert E. Houghton stadium Sunday afternoon.


“It’s a family affair,” said Perez. “I come just to cheer on the kids. The kids are getting better and better every year. Better training. Better coaches.”

Perez and family were among the thousands of fans expected to stream into Little League Western Region Headquarters on Sunday for the 46th annual Little League Western Regional Baseball Tournament, which concluded with an evening opening ceremony before the Northern California and Southern California teams faced off for the day’s highlight event.


Perez said he and his family arrived to the ballfield about 8 a.m., just in time to catch the first game of the day: Hawaii versus Nevada. Hawaii won 8-0. Then they checked out the second game, Montana versus Alaska, which Montana won 10-2.

Shielded from the hot sun but braving the heat nonetheless, Perez and his nephews were awaiting the third game at 4 p.m.: Wyoming versus Washington.

“It brings me back — just to see the kids play,” said Perez. “The home runs. The plays. The double plays. All of that is exciting.”


Perez’s nephew, Rudy Baay, said it’s almost as much fun watching the game as it is playing.

“It’s fun to watch the other states play and see what they’re doing,” said Baay, 13, of Escondido.

Perez’s other nephews — Jacob Baay, 11, of Escondido, Aaron Lopez, 14, and Andres Lopez, both of La Quinta — also play in either Little League or Pony League.

Twelve teams from 11 states, with California having two teams (Northern California and Southern California) will compete through Aug. 13, with the top team moving on to play in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.



A slew of retired professional baseball players, including former L.A. Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela and Kevin Gross, former pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, Montreal Expos, and L.A. Dodgers, will be attending the tournament on different days to throw out the first pitch and sign autographs, said Western Region Little League Assistant Director Brian Pickering.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s 40 King helicopter was scheduled to do a flyover during Sunday’s opening ceremony to welcome players, their families, and fans, to the event.


Western Region Director David Bonham said the special thing about opening day is it provides an opportunity for everyone to get to know one another and to acknowledge and congratulate all the teams on making it as far as they have.

Of course, it’s a lot of fun as well.

“The energy is felt on the field and off the field at these games,” Pickering said.


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