LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL
Nevada ace hands Waipio its first regional defeat
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. » The good news for the Waipio Little League team after its 4-1 loss to Nevada last night is it didn't throw its ace and it made three errors and still didn't get blown out.
"That's exactly the way I look at it," Waipio manager Timo Donahue said. "We threw the ball around a little in that first inning."
For the Nevada team from Paseo Verde LL (near Las Vegas), the dream of a World Series appearance is alive. No team from Nevada has ever gone 4-0 in West Region pool play in San Bernardino or made the World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Nevada took a step closer to that dream in a pool-play battle of unbeatens before 4,500 at Al Houghton Stadium.
"Hawaii is a very good team," Nevada manager Jim Kelly said. "Tonight they made a few more errors than they usually do; usually they're flawless. But I also think we can hit better."
Nevada (3-0) finishes pool play at 12:30 p.m. today against Utah. Hawaii (3-1) has completed pool play and has made the tomorrow's semifinals.
Waipio was facing long odds in this one, facing Nevada fireballer Michael Blasko, a muscular right-hander who is the grandson of former major league pitcher Joe Blasko.
At least one longtime Little League observer has compared Blasko to Cody Webster, a stocky, tow-headed Washington Kirkland Little League player who led the Seattle-area team to the 1982 World Series title.
Blasko did little to discourage the comparisons last night, throttling the Hawaiians on three hits over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out 15 and walked one.
Hawaii standout Caleb Duhay said Blasko is the fastest pitcher the Waipio team has seen.
"You have to start your swing early, but some of his curves were kind of hanging," Duhay said.
Waipio scored its only run in the second following a two-out single by Jedd Andrade. Pinch-runner Keelen Obedoza came around to score on a dropped fly ball.
Duhay and Christian Donahue had Hawaii's other hits, with Donahue contributing a double.
Nevada scored all the runs it would need in the first after loading the bases on singles off Trevor Ling by Jesse Keiser, Blasko and Josh McCollum. One run scored on a fielder's choice and another came home on a Hawaii error.
Nevada added an unearned run in the second inning to make it 3-1, then got a solo home run from Derek Clelan in the fourth inning.
Donahue, the police detective who coaches the Waipio team, was impressed with Blasko.
"You can't take anything away from their pitcher," Donahue said. "He pitched a great game."
If Waipio wins tomorrow, it will be in the West Region title game on Sunday at 4 p.m. (HST), in a game to be televised live on ESPN2.