Hometown fans cheer Westport LL's World Series heroics

Even though there are plenty of cliff-hangers in stock at the Westport Library, all eyes Thursday were focused only on one -- the thriller showcasing the exploits of Westport's own Little League champs -- as the home team battled to a nail-biting victory in their first game of the Little League World Series.

Cheers rang through the library's McManus Room as the crowd of about 60 fans watching the game together on a jumbo-screen television saw Westport's boys of summer take a come-from-behind 3-2 lead and hold on for a win in their Williamsport debut.

"They're ours," said Maxine Bleiweis, library director. "It's exciting to be able to cheer on the players, who are all part of our library community.

"And to be able to have a space to bring people together," she added. "It's always fun to be at a baseball game cheering with others."

A range of Westport fans took advantage of the library's hospitality, including friends of the players, school employees, town officials and residents.

"It's really cool," said Logan Carstens, 12. "I never really imagined my town, or really close friends, would be on the TV. It's really just amazing how far they've gone."

"When you look on the TV and just see people you know, or people you recognize, it's just really cool," he said.

"I'm really surprised that Westport made it very far in the Little League World Series," said Gabriel Wick, 12, who has several friends playing on the championship team, which won the New England regional crown to qualify for the series. "We're just a small town compared to every other town."

Small or not, the Westport players looked like real pros up on the big screen, which was broadcast nationally by ESPN2. Westport scored the first run, but two other near-scoring bids were thwarted by close plays at the plate. Their Tennessee Southeast opponent came back to take a 2-1 lead, but after a big home run to tie the game, Westport was able to generate another run and hold on for a 3-2 win.

"They pulled it out," Wick said. "I'm really proud of my friends."

"I am so happy," said Libby Carstens. "I feel like I won the lottery. I'm so excited for them."

"I work for the Board of Ed and I see all these kids running around all the time, so I thought I'd come out and support them," said Gary Quinlan.

"I don't have ESPN and I'm glad I don't," said Tom Lowrie of Westport. "This is great."

Next up for the Westport champs is the team from Sammamish, Wash., in a Sunday afternoon game. The Westport Library will again be hosting a viewing party.