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Outpouring of community pride greets team's return

  • Hundreds of fans greeted the Petaluma National team, led by James O'Hanlon, Danny Marzo, Porter Slate and Quinton Gago at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds on Monday after they finished third in the Little League World Series in Williamsport.

When Petaluma National's motorcade reached the boys' hometown Monday upon their return from the Little League World Series, the communal affection for the team that has been mounting for weeks reached a crescendo.

Fire and police sirens wailed as the team drove by Petaluma Junior High School, where hundreds of the players' fellow students hooted, hollered and jumped for joy on the school's lawn.

The team's success "meant a lot because it made Petaluma more famous," said Tony Ocana, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at the school. "They tried their best."

Petaluma National Team Returns Home

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Petaluma National "represented our town against the whole world. They put us on the map," said PJHS eighth-grader Kira Kimberly. "I'm proud of them."

Something big has been building in southern Sonoma County over the past few weeks as Petaluma National piled win upon win.

The team made it to the U.S. final Saturday, losing a heartbreaker, then won on Sunday to capture third place in the World Series.

As team manager Eric Smith said during the West Regional in San Bernardino: "It gets more exciting the further you go."

Petaluma National swept that tournament, winning a golden ticket to South Williamsport, Pa. But that was just the beginning, for the team and their supporters.

During the World Series, the boys' extended families, friends and local supporters packed the two biggest theaters (253 seats each) at Boulevard 14 Cinema, chanting "Pe-ta-lu-ma" with every big hit and defensive gem.

Fans crowded into Taps, Beyond the Glory, McNear's and other local watering holes, roaring with each exciting victory, or they gathered for house parties to watch the local boys.


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