On a typical Saturday afternoon, Eastlake Tavern & Bowl is the place for families to spend some quality time while having lunch and having fun bowling a few games.
But yesterday wasn’t a typical Saturday.
The restaurant was standing room only as hundreds of Eastlake Little League fans gathered at the Tavern to watch the Eastlake Little League All-Stars defeat Westport. Conn. 12-1, becoming national champions in the process.
The crowd of about 350 people loudly cheered, screamed and chanted “Eastlake! Eastlake! Eastlake!” every time the boys from Eastlake put up a run on the scoreboard.
“It normally isn’t like this on a Saturday,” said Bryant Villasin, general manager of Eastlake Tavern & Bowl said. “But today is all about Eastlake Little League.”
Among those in attendance donning their Eastlake green shirts or yellow West shirts were Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox and her husband County Supervisor Greg Cox, Sweetwater District Trustee John McCann and several friends and relatives of the kids on the team.
Mayor Cox said the Eastlake Little League All-Stars are doing a great service to the community.
“They are putting Chula Vista on the map again,” she said. “It takes us out of San Diego’s shadow for a little while.”
However, not everyone at the Tavern was from Eastlake or the South Bay.
Robert Rubalcaba, a resident from South East San Diego, made the nearly 17-mile trek to the viewing party to cheer on Eastlake.
Rubalcaba said although he isn’t from the South Bay, he wanted to witness history repeat itself.
“In 2009 after Park View won the World Series, I said to myself ‘this would never happen to a San Diego County team again,’’Rubalcaba said. “Four years later, it is happening again and I had to celebrate.”
Fans made time for food and drinks but their eyes were mostly glued to the television sets. There was even some chatter about how sad it was to see Tijuana Little Leaguers losing to Japan.
Sue Johnson, an Eastlake resident whose son once played for Eastlake Little League, said she still could not believe some of her son’s old teammates are on ESPN.
“It is surreal to see the kids my son has grown up with on television,” She said.
Eastlake Tavern & Bowl will host the final viewing party today at noon when Eastlake takes on Japan for the Little League World Series title.