SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT – With the heartache of an 18-11 loss to Kitasuna from Tokyo, Japan at the Little League World Series championship still apparent, families and friends met the Red Land team at the top of a hill overlooking the stadium.
Players had packed up their belongings from the International Grove, which had been their home for the past two weeks, and readied for the long road back to Lewisberry.
A storm that rolled through less than a hour after the game had ended, chased away most of the 42,218 that packed the stadium earlier in the day; among them included Gov. Tom Wolfe.
Having a Pennsylvania team in contention – as was the case a year ago with Taney from Philadelphia and Mo’Ne Davis – helped increase the crowds at Lamade Stadium.
Back-to-back strong Pennsylvania teams and Red Land making it a step farther just pushed the attendance numbers higher.
Red Land’s 3-2 win over Pearland West from Texas Saturday drew the largest single game crowd ever to Lamade at 45,716.
This was also the most attended series ever. Sunday’s two games drew 63,481 total, making it 467,964 for 32 games at the series. That easily surpassed the record of 414,905 set in 31 games in 2011.
Nearly half of the crowd that filled the bank above Lamade was out more than five hours before the final, getting positioned for the best view possible.
“This team had a huge impact on the community,” Red Land manager Tom Peifer said. “Just to see the people that came here is unbelievable.”
Jessica Enders made the trip from Camp Hill and was watching Red Land play for the third time.
“It was beyond what you could anticipate,” Enders said. “The whole atmosphere and support for the boys was phenomenal. They rallied around the boys so much and we’re just so proud of them.
“This definitely exceeded any expectations we could have had,” she said. “We were surrounded by a lot of people that we knew, but I do think in general, anybody from Pennsylvania was rallying for our boys here today.”
Carter Enders, Jessica’s son, plays in the Red Land Little League. She said the run to Pennsylvania, Mid-Atlantic Region and United States championships has added to the interest younger boys in the league have in the game.
“My arm is sore from all the catches and throwing we’ve been doing in our yard lately,” Enders said. “These young boys are very inspired by what they saw here these last two weeks.”
Before the game, Little League Baseball honored Corp. Bryon K. Dickson, who was killed at the Blooming Grove Barracks in Pike County on Sept. 12, 2014. Dickson’s sons, Bryon and Adam and Trooper Alex T. Douglass threw the ceremonial first before the start of the game.