Hundreds of friends, family and supporters lined the streets of downtown Arroyo Grande on Wednesday night to celebrate the Five Cities all-star baseball team winning the Babe Ruth World Series last week in Arkansas.
The group of 13-year-old boys and their coaches were accompanied by a police escort as they traveled along East Branch Avenue during a parade that ended with a rally led by community members from the Five Cities area.
“This is so awesome,” head coach Mike Afzali said before introducing each player to the raucous crowd. “This is just a long time coming for these boys.”
Five Cities defeated Eagle Pass of Texas, 7-6, in a thrilling championship game last Thursday, capping a season filled with come-from-behind victories.
The San Luis Obispo County-based team came from behind to win the District 6 tournament championship in July.
After an undefeated run through the Central California state tournament, Five Cities went on to win the Pacific Southwest Regional championship game in walk-off fashion — securing a trip to the Babe Ruth World Series.
Once in Arkansas, second-seeded Five Cities went 6-1 overall, but had to hold off a resilient Eagle Pass team in the final.
Eagle Pass overcame a four-run deficit to take a 6-5 lead in the top of the seventh inning, leaving Five Cities in a familiar position.
After Eagle Pass retired the first two batters to start the bottom of the seventh, Cole Gilson was hit by a pitch, according to the Baxter Bulletin.
Andrew Zickuhr then singled but was caught in a rundown as Gilson rounded third. The throw home was late, allowing the tying run to score and Zickuhr to take second.
Ty Scrudato then hit a grounder to shortshop, but the throw sailed over the first baseman’s head for an error that allowed the game-winning run to score.
Afzali said it was the team’s fourth walk-off victory of the season.
Violet Zickuhr, Andrew Zickuhr’s mother, said many of the team members have been playing together since they were 8 years old.
“It was exciting, to say the least,” she said before the parade began Wednesday.
Grover Beach City Council member Jeff Lee also addressed the crowd, and encouraged players to cherish the memories they brought back from Arkansas.
“So remember when times get tough or times get great, this is something that you have done,” Lee said. “They can not take this away from you. Remember that.”
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