Tijuana dominated the regional tournament, outscoring opponents 37-0 on their way to the championship. They are one of the favorites at the National Championships of Mexico in Monterrey in July.
Whoever wins this tournament will represent Mexico in the Little League World Championship.
“They are a very good team,” said Alberto Mejia, president of the Tijuana Small Municipal League.
The municipality of Tijuana regularly produces quality baseball players. Alumni include Alejandro Kirk of the Toronto Blue Jays, Jonathan Aranda of the Tampa Bay Rays, and San Diego Padres legend Adrian Gonzalez. One of the minor league stadiums is Gonzales.
The league is so popular that kids from San Diego play south of the border.
“We have a lot of people who cross the border every day just to come and play,” Mejia said.
Facilities are also part of the appeal. Tijuana Municipal has a 9-acre complex filled with baseball fields and batting cages. Players also have access to cross training and sports psychologists.
Part of what makes the Tijuana All-Star Team special is that some of the kids have been playing together since they were three years old.
“They are like brothers,” said coach Francisco Vimbres.
Even though they are stars, Vembres said, the players have a team-first attitude.
When asked who the MVP was, the players simply answered, “All of us. We’re all one.”
One of the main reasons for the success of Tijuana’s Little League is the high level of intramural competition. The league has nearly 2,000 players, all vying for spots on the All-Star teams.
Tijuana Little League teams also participate in tournaments in San Diego and play against travel baseball teams.
“They gained a lot of experience from an early age,” said Vembres.
He coached the 2013 team that lost in the semi-finals of the World Junior Championships to Japan.
Going backwards would give Fimbres a second chance at the title.
“It would be nice to go,” he said. “So why not try to catch up on what we missed in 2013?”
Like in San Diego, Little League in Tijuana is a family affair.
Parents travel with the team. They come prepared with drums and multi-organized chants.
“We see how much effort these kids put into this and it makes us want to put in just as much effort,” said Miriam Gonzalez, one of the team’s moms.
This level of commitment is not without sacrifice.
Families dedicate entire weekends to baseball tournaments. Gonzalez said it was expensive to travel with the team.
Some parents established GoFundMe travel fundraising page for the National Championships in Monterrey.
For players, getting to Williamsport would be a dream come true.
Jorge Cota watches the tournament on TV every year.
“It would be great to play in such a big tournament in the United States,” he said.