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Ewa Beach’s ace pitcher can
Little League World Series U.S. ChampionshipWho: Ewa Beach vs. Rancho Buena Vista, Calif.
When: 9:30 a.m. today
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.
"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."