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After long trip, Diablos enjoy southern charm

By Zack Huffman

zhuffman@news-daily.com

Sunny weather, beautiful beaches and palm trees. These are the sorts of things that people tend to associate with Southern California. So what would ever compel anyone to ever leave that paradise to travel over 2000 miles to visit the other side of the country?

In the Southern California Diablos case, it was the privilege to compete in the AABC Roberto Clemente World Series.

For some competitors, traveling cross-state for a baseball tournament is what it takes to be a champion. For the Diablos, who hail from La Puente, a predominately Hispanic suburb of Los Angeles, traveling from one coast to another was nothing short of an odyssey for the band of 7- and 8-year-olds.

According to head coach Carlos Maldonado, the plane ride itself was an exciting part of the Diablos' trip.

"It was fun and a little scary with the turbulence," he said. "The plane was shaking a bit. For a couple of kids it was their first time in a plane, so they worried."

Luckily for the Diablos, a little bit of shaking was the worst they faced between California and Georgia.

While Maldonado is no stranger to heat, living just outside of Los Angeles, he was quick to note the humidity that lifetime Georgians have long since grown accustomed to.

Aside from the weather, Maldonado has also enjoyed the southern hospitality that Georgia prides itself on.

"We appreciate the hospitality from everyone here," he said. "They've been treating us really well. Everybody's been real supportive. It's a really nice city. I would definitely come back."

Coming into the tournament, the Diablos were set to face the McDonough Elite Gamers Red, whose coach Brian Little expected to be a hard-fought battle considering the lengths the Diablos went to in order to show up for the tournament.

Although the Elite Gamers pulled out the win, 10-6, the Diablos battled back in the second round, defeating the Farmington Fuel, 8-4, to keep them in contention for the championship.