The boys of summer are wearing a familiar name across their baseball jersey: Encinitas Little League.
The team representing a town known more for surfing and skateboards makes waves yet again in youth baseball.
The ELL Juniors, ages 13-14, are off to the Juniors World Series in Taylor, Michigan. It opens against Texas in the first round on Aug. 13.
But that’s just the beginning of this postseason shindig that runs through Aug. 20. The title game is being broadcast by ESPN.
After steam rolling through district, section and region tournaments, ELL has its sights set higher.
“It’s been a long trip with a lot of successes,” ELL skipper Danny Muckley said. “We have a pretty special team.’’
It’s one that punched its ticket to Michigan after taking one on this chin last year. In the 2016 regional final ELL was a hard-luck, extra-inning loser to Hawaii.
Aloha meant “so long” for ELL but not all the players turned in their uniforms. A half dozen players falling short the previous summer are standing tall this August.
“It was like we had some unfinished business,” Muckley said. “They felt like they needed to accomplish something.”
Muckley knows other volunteer coaches laid the groundwork for his team’s grounded approach. He mentions Chaz Gagne, Bob Buscher and John Dulich.
This year’s ELL bunch, also coached by Ryan Rosenbaum, Robert Wade, Ryan Cohen and Pete Gagne, has blistered its opponents by averaging 10 runs a game. It has outscored its foes, 160-33.
That’s crazy good. But baseball is nuts so ELL had to summon shortstop Julian Nunez to get them to the world series.
With ace Brady Burger’s innings depleted, ELL asked Nunez to stare down Oakland in the West Region final.
“All he did was throw a complete-game shutout,’’ Muckley said. “He didn’t walk a single batter and gave up two hits.’’
It’s easy to see why ELL is at the top.
Nunez anchors a defense that includes Connor Blough at second, Jobe Cubillan playing first and Cooper Dulich and Kadin Muckely handling the hot corner.
Jack Maes is among those roaming the outfield, when he’s not pitching in, with, well, pitching. Along with Cody Martinez and Rylan Wade, there’s an impressive line of relievers that do nothing but get outs.
Which has got ELL going way out of town for its next competition. But it’s more than games at this stage with the local teenagers hanging out with counterparts from around the globe.
When ELL makes is travel connection in San Francisco for Michigan, it’ll be joined by two other teams from China. Everyone bound for Taylor, which is right outside of Detroit.
“A whole plane full of baseball players,’’ the elder Muckley said. “That ought to be interesting.’’
Welcome to Motor City Madness.
“I get to be the coach and the chaperon,’’ he said. “At least they’re good kids. All I have to do is just keep them going in the right direction.’’
Welcome to ELL’s baseball summer, which really does seem endless.
Contact Jay Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @jparis_sports.
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports