NUTLEY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Some little leaguers in Nutley, N.J. now have some big dreams.
Their little league team clinched the east regional championship and Friday they head to San Francisco for the Intermediate Team World Series.
It’s a field of dreams for a team of 13-year-olds.
The Nutley Intermediate Little League has kids in it a little older than regular little league, but just as elated after winning the game that sent them to the league championship in California.
“This is a team of kids that go to school together, they all go to Walker Middle School in Nutley, they’re all 7th graders, they all hang out together,” said manager Peter Breihof.
Friends and teammates, all with the shared loved of baseball.
“They have a little special chemistry that’s almost inexplicable. They get it done,” Breihof said.
That was not quite the case last year, when this team lost in the semifinals. But this year, with a quiet determination, they all had their eyes on the prize.
“We have been working really hard for this and I think we deserve it, and it’s our time to show how much we want to win it all,” said pitcher Kevin Jiratatprasot.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t pregame jitters.
“We are also a little nervous cause we are playing teams from all over the world,” said pitcher Jonathan Breihof.
“There are going to be a lot of people watching,” said Jayden Valez.
“We would just have to play game by game and see where we would go,” said Jake Lomonoco.
There’s an infectious enthusiasm to the team that’s reached the soul of the neighborhood, CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported.
“They’re putting viewing parties together for Sunday night. The response from the town has been unbelievable,” said Peter Breihof.
“People are just congratulating us and telling us they are proud of us,” said catcher Joey Haines.
That includes some notable fans, like Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
“Congratulations to the Nutley Little League for making the Little League World Series. It’s a great honor. Enjoy this journey and good luck this weekend with the big game,” Manning said in a video posted to YouTube.
For now, they’re all just relishing their time as friends and teammates.
The team says they break sticks and twigs in the dugout to relieve pressure and are going to collect some to take with them.
They play their first game Sunday night.