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Families, fans react to Las Vegas Little League team advancing in LLWS

Photo: Image by Roland Watkins

Families, fans react to Las Vegas Little League team advancing in LLWS

By Jacqui Heinrich. CREATED Aug 14, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Some of Las Vegas' youngest made history Thursday night. The Mountain Ridge Little League baseball team was the first Nevada team to ever make it to the Little League World Series in its 75-year history, and they came out winners.

Michelle Hare is one proud mom, not just watching her 13-year-old son Zachary Hare on national television, but watching him score the first run of the Little League World Series against South Dakota.

Hare told Action News it was "super hard' to be watching from so far away, but it will get a little easier come Sunday when the family flies out to Williamsport, Pennsylvania for Mountain Ridge's next game. "It means the world to me," said Zachary Hare told ESPN.

Thanks in part to Zachary, the team has advanced to the next round after a 12-2 win against their South Dakota rivals. "I felt like I needed to redeem myself because I hadn't been treating the bat real well, so I just found a pitch I liked and swung at it," Hare said.

It's a pretty big deal in and of itself, but an even bigger deal considering no team from Nevada has ever made it to the Little League World Series. Congressman Steven Horsford made a bet with South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem, and now she has to hold up her end of the deal by congratulating the Las Vegas team wearing a Mountain Ridge T-shirt on the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, DC.

It didn't come without some hard work from the players and the coaches. Assistant Coach Roland Watkins' wife Stacy and son Ryan said Dad's been putting in some long hours with those kiddos to gear up for the big times. "We're waving to him. It's the most we've seen of him in the last two and a half months," Stacy Watkins said, watching her husband on ESPN from Buffalo Wild Wings in Las Vegas.

With the support of a very excited Las Vegas community, many of the parents and families will be able to make the trip cross-country to witness the once-in-a-lifetime event, including a very proud Stacy and Ryan. The team has nearly met their goal of raising $60,000 to fly the families out.

"It feels special to be one of those kids who has a Dad that works hard and doesn't give up to do what he wants to do," Ryan Watkins said.

As Mountain Ridge wins more games, they will have to stay in Pennsylvania for longer, meaning hotel costs will add up for families staying in hotels to support their players. If you want to donate to support the team, click here.

Jacqui Heinrich

Jacqui Heinrich

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Jacqui Heinrich is currently a general assignment reporter for Action News.