For the Holman family, it’s been a summer of playing together, staying together.
Doug Holman is one of the coaches on Eastlake Little League’s 12-under all-star team that has landed a history-making berth in the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa.
Grant Holman is the team’s ace pitcher. His two-hit shutout victory in Saturday’s West Region championship game provided the last piece to the puzzle for Eastlake in its quest to reach the LLWS.
But Doug and Grant are soon to have company in Pennsylvania. Mother Kim and sister Emily are set to join them to complete the family’s -- as well as the team’s -- wild ride this summer.
“It’s such a dream come true,” Kim Holman said before departing on a red-eye flight to the East Coast late Tuesday night. “Every Little Leaguer has set his dreams on this, so I’m proud to see what they’ve accomplished. I get choked up every time I think about them — it’s a lifetime memory.”
Kim has been to all of the team’s games, wherever the meteoric journey has taken its players and coaches to fields in the South Bay (Eastlake Little League, Imperial Beach Little League and Sweetwater Valley Little League), elsewhere in San Diego County (Spring Valley Little League) or points north (Corona National Little League and Long Beach Little League) before finally hitting last week’s regional championship tournament in San Bernardino.
Kim can be excused for being floored by what the Eastlake team has accomplished.
After all, 7,000 teams started on the road to Williamsport nearly two months ago. Only 16 remain — just eight in the United States.
“That’s such an accomplishment,” Kim explained. “Some of them have been chasing this dream since they were 10, and some even from when they were 8. There’s something special about this group. They’re just so coachable. You give them instruction and they go out and apply it. There’s no drama at all. They’re all friends.
“It’s been a fun ride for all of the parents.”
The steppingstones to Williamsport for this high achieving Eastlake team have been championship titles earned at the district, section, sub-division, division and regional levels.
Eastlake won its first 16 games before finally tasting defeat; the team takes a rather imposing 18-1 record into its opening LLWS game Friday against Great Lakes regional champion Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores from Michigan.
Over the course of the 19 games, Eastlake has outscored its opponents by a whopping 204-44.
While the team has to be considered among the favorites to win the 2013 LLWS championship, there is one potential distraction: homework.
Eastlake is one of the few teams in this year’s LLWS tournament that has to deal with a year-round school schedule. The 2013-14 school term for most team members began on July 25 in accordance with the Sweetwater Union High School District’s year-round schedule.
Eight of Eastlake’s players attend Eastlake Middle School, either being seventh or eighth graders.
Should the team go all the way, these players could miss up to a month of the current school term.
Independent study programs have helped, and the first wave of homework has already been turned in or is about to be, according to team sources.
Grant is an eighth grader at EMS. Besides baseball, he also likes to play basketball.
(For those already salivating at the prospect of 6-foot-2 Grant playing quarterback at the high school level, they may have to wait a while to see if he warms up to the sport.)
Besides Grant, Grant’s sister Emily also has been affected by the non-traditional start of school. Emily is a freshman at Eastlake High School. However, mom said that has all been worked out.
“Her teachers kind of knew this might come up, so when she went in to sign her independent study contract, they all told her to have a good trip — that it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for her as well as her brother.”
The family’s adventure continues Friday. How long it lasts is anyone’s guess.
The Michigan team’s ace hurler — Chad Lorkowski — matches Grant in height but also packs on 210 pounds. That’s a lot of muscle behind the ball.
Kim remains optimistic.
“We’ve beaten some tough teams to get here, and have some tough teams yet to play,” she said. “It’s amazing we’ve gotten this far.”
Eastlake Tavern & Bowl remains the official viewing party location for Eastlake Little League. The east side establishment will show all of the Eastlake team’s games on its HD TV screens throughout the LLWS.
Eastlake Little League will be selling souvenirs at Friday’s viewing party. These include pins, caps and T-shirts. Want a piece of history? Come on down!
Eastlake Tavern & Bowl is located at 881 Showroom Place, Chula Vista. Call 565-2695 for more information. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Eastlake Tavern & Bowl is not the only location where viewing parties are being held. La Bella Pizza and Games, located on the west side of town, has also been showing Eastlake’s games to growing numbers of fans.
Midway through Saturday’s West Region championship game (a 9-0 Eastlake victory over Northern California state champion Belmont-Redwood Shores), all seven monitors in the downtown Third Avenue restaurant were tuned to the game, temporarily bumping Major League Baseball telecasts.
Eastlake Little League
West Region Champions
#3 Patrick Archer
#4 Jake Espinoza
#5 Nick Mora
#7 Micah Pietila-Wiggs
#8 Charly Peterson
#9 Ricky Tibbett
#15 Michael Gaines
#16 Giancarlo Cortez
#17 Grant Holman
#18 Dominic Haley
#19 Kevin Bateman
#25 Rennard Williams
Manager: Rick Tibbett
Coach: Doug Holman
Coach: Eddy Espinoza
The Road to Williamsport
West Region Championship
(Aug. 2-10 in San Bernardino)
Eastlake 16, Hawaii 2
Eastlake, 15, Nevada 0
Eastlake 11, Utah 3
Northern California 3, Eastlake 2
Eastlake 12, Nevada 0
Eastlake 9, Northern California 0
Division III/Southern California Championship
(July 27-28 at Long Beach Little League)
Eastlake 6, Sherman Oaks 3
Eastlake 5, Sherman Oaks 0
(Eastlake wines best-of-three series, 2-0)
Sub-Division III/Southern California Championship
(July 20-24 at Corona National Little League)
Eastlake 10, Huntington Valley 6â€¨Eastlake 12, Corona National 8
Eastlake 10, Highland 3
Eastlake 15, Highland 5
California Section 7 Championship
(July 13-16 at Spring Valley Little League)
Eastlake 15, Twin Hills 0
Eastlake 10, Rancho San Diego 0
Eastlake 11, Rancho San Diego 7
California District 42 Championship
(June 29 to July 8)
Eastlake 10, Chula Vista National 1
Eastlake 13, Imperial Beach 2
Eastlake 15, Sweetwater Valley 1
Eastlake 8, Sweetwater Valley 0