Ewa Beach ace pitcher Alakai Aglipay, right, has not allowed a run in a little more than 15 innings.

Tough call

Ewa Beach’s ace pitcher can
only play in one more game
-- which will it be?

Ewa Beach manager Layton Aliviado is holding an ace.

Now all he has to do is figure out when to play it.

Aliviado's West Oahu Little League team meets Rancho Buena Vista, Calif., in the United States Championship of the Little League World Series at South Williamsport, Pa., today at 9:30 a.m.

Little League World Series U.S. Championship

Who: Ewa Beach vs. Rancho Buena Vista, Calif.

When: 9:30 a.m. today


If the team from Hawaii wins, it plays the International champion tomorrow for the World Series title. Japan and defending champion Curacao play at 1:30 p.m. local time. Both games will be televised live in Hawaii on KITV.

Because of rules to protect young pitchers' arms, Aliviado can only throw his best pitcher -- Alakai Aglipay -- in one of those games. Does he put his ace out there today for a better chance at getting a seat at the final table, or does he take a chance and save Aglipay for tomorrow's meeting with the International champion?

"I'm thinking right now it's Alakai," Aliviado said shortly after his team beat Lafayette, La., Thursday. "But really, I'm comfortable with any of our pitchers out there."

Aliviado's other guys include lefty Quentin Guevara, who finished Thursday's win with a scoreless inning, and Von Feao but not Kini Enos. Enos pitched five innings Thursday and will not be available to throw today.

Hawaii catcher Michael Memea celebrated on Aug. 15 after West Oahu beat Idaho 12-1 to advance to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

Aglipay has been Aliviado's workhorse all season, riding a 15 1/3-inning scoreless streak to narrow his earned run average to 0.31 since the team left Hawaii. The team's ERA with Aglipay is 1.94 and 2.91 without him. Guevara has done his part to close that disparity, allowing only a single run in 5 1/3 innings. Feao has not been scored upon in 2 1/3 innings.

"We are just going to do what we do," Aliviado said. "Really, we never thought we would even get this far, to the championship of the U.S. I'm just going to tell the boys to play ball and have fun."

Ewa Beach can match Pearl City's 1988 squad with a win today and pass it by taking the whole tournament. Pearl City advanced to the championship game that year before losing to Taipei, 10-0.

California manager Marty Miller does not have nearly as much anguish as Aliviado because his ace, Kalen Pimental, pitched California's last game and will not be available today. Left-hander Nate Lewis is expected to make his first start of the Little League World Series. He has not pitched since Aug. 14.

Only three teams in the tournament have come within four runs of Ewa Beach during its recent run, but that does not mean the team has not been challenged. It had its hands full just to get out of the state.

Ewa Beach barely made it out of the district tournament, beating Pearl City by scores of 4-0 and 5-2 with Aglipay pitching, and taking out Hilo, 7-5, with Enos on the mound.

"We were actually behind in a couple of games back home," Aliviado said. "That is helping us now. These boys keep fighting. They just never give up."

Aliviado believes that those experiences helped forge the unit that has became one of only nine from Hawaii to reach the Little League World Series.

"They beat us," Pearl City coach Garrett Nago said. "I've got to believe that this is the Hawaii team that can do it, no matter which game Aglipay pitches."

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