Buffalo Wild Wings doesn’t usually take reservations. Saturday was special.
The Cave family — about 20 strong — was in the center of the excitement at a saved table, awash in the glow of the sports bar’s 41 screens. All but six were on the big game. They were going to lose.
Being the mother of Mountain Ridge’s coach and having a grandson on the team would have been emotional enough.
Team manager Ashton Cave is one of Lorraine O’Dell’s 12 children.
“We have an ‘Angel in Outfield,’ ” he told her and his father, Richard O’Dell, before the national championship, she said.
Staff Sgt. Adam O’Dell died almost a year ago — Sept. 12 — in Afghanistan at age 30.
Lorraine O’Dell’s youngest son, Jerad O’Dell, 23, was deployed to Iraq the day of the high-stakes game.
“It’s been an emotional roller coaster,” Lorraine O’Dell said. “How can you have two extremes at one time?”
Huddled with her large family, Lorraine O’Dell cheered, pumping her fists in the air when the boys did well and tensing up at crucial pitches.
In the final moments, when Mountain Ridge had one last shot at making a comeback, her grandson Dallan Cave came up to bat.
Lorraine O’Dell stood in a corner near the front of the restaurant watching alone. It was almost too intense to watch. She alternated between looking and holding her head in her hands.
But Dallan Cave got on base. The packed grill erupted with hoots and hollers.
She got in one more “That’s my grandson!” before a double-play by the Chicago-based Great Lakes team ended it all. The score was 7-5.
A somber shock settled over the joint, but there were no poor sports. After a few moments of disbelief, the clapping began.
“It’s all right Mountain Ridge!” server Stephanie Royer shouted. “They’re still our boys.”
The watching party in the wings joint, which is just a short drive from Mountain Ridge’s fields in a northwest Las Vegas shopping complex, was the place to be. It’s practically the team’s headquarters, a favorite post-game spot to chow down.
People started showing up at 10:30 a.m. to get seats, and the phone was ringing off the hook the day before with people wanting tables, said Scott Schubert, a manager at the restaurant. More than 200 fans packed the place.
The grill’s employees were just as on edge, having waited on the players and their families for years. A few servers donned “Mountain Ridge Pride” shirts.
Despite the defeat, there was no robbing the boys of the glory of taking Las Vegas further than it’s ever been in more than 70 years of Little League history. The Las Vegas High Roller blinked out the team’s colors in honor of the achievement. The boys will be honored at City Hall and then parade along Las Vegas Boulevard on Aug. 30.
Mountain Ridge lost to Japan on Sunday for third place. Chicago lost to South Korea in the championship.
The Saturday game was for the national title.
“Second in the U.S.?” Lorraine O’Dell said. “That’s pretty dang good!”
Contact Bethany Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3861. Find her on Twitter: @betsbarnes.