Chalk one up for a bunch of little guys from Small Town USA.
The Little League World Series attracted some extra attention with kids from small towns just down the road involved this year.
The Keystone Little League All-Stars from Clinton County showed they belonged on the biggest stage for youth baseball, too.
Keystone, known to their faithful followers as "The Big Blue Machine," went 3-2 in the LLWS and finished among the top three teams in the U.S. and among the top six teams in the world.
Keystone's two losses were by a total of three runs. California ended Keystone's magical run in the semifinals, then went on to capture both the U.S. and world championships.
The Lock Haven area team was the darling of the World Series and attracted record-setting crowds. When Keystone won the Mid-Atlantic Region to earn a berth in the LLWS in South Williamsport, its fan base swelled enormously.
The Keystone team attracted an estimated 167,350 fans for its five games, including a World Series record crowd of 41,848 for its first game.
Attendance for the entire World Series totaled nearly 415,000 - another record, thanks to Keystone.
The Keystone kids gave Clinton Countians someone to cheer, and the response was overwhelming.
Businesses and houses displayed their support and were decorated, in royal Keystone blue, of course. Churches were on board with "Go Keystone" on their outdoor bulletin boards.
And it seemed like everyone in Clinton County purchased a Keystone shirt, creating a sea of blue at Lamade Stadium.
Keystone Little League stretches from Blanchard to Lock Haven, but its home field is located in Beech Creek - yes, Beech Creek, small town USA.
Baseball is big in Beech Creek, a community of approximately 1,000 residents, nine miles west of Lock Haven at the Clinton-Centre county line. Blanchard is one mile away in Centre County.
Beech Creek doesn't have enough traffic to warrant a signal light, but it does have four baseball fields and townspeople who are passionate about baseball.
Justin Kline, mayor of Beech Creek, was one of the assistant coaches for the Keystone team.
Five of the 11 players on the Keystone team were from the Beech Creek-Blanchard area with the remainder of the players coming from the Lock Haven, Mill Hall and Lamar areas of Clinton County.
I relished Keystone's run in the World Series because my Little League roots travel back to the small towns in Clinton County. I played in the Inter-Community Little League, a forerunner of Keystone.
Six small towns, including Beech Creek and Blanchard, made up the I-C League. I was fortunate enough to make the I-C All-Star team in 1959 and compete in the Little League tournament.
The I-C team team won section and district championships in the Lock Haven-Williamsport area, but back in those days it was one-and-done. If you lost, you went home.
Our season was ended by Altoona in an inter-district game played at Shea Field in Tyrone. That game, which had a controversial ending, is still replayed in my mind.
The character displayed by the Keystone team, both on and off the field, created some pleasant memories that will last a lifetime. Thanks, Keystone kids.
By the way, any chance that Central Mountain may have a pretty good baseball team in a few years?
Paul Lilly is an occasional contributor to Voice of the Fan.