Eye on the prize
Vonn Feao watched his fifth-inning two-run home run yesterday in South Williamsport, Pa.

Ewa Beach defeats California
to play for the Series title

Hawaii Little Leaguers
face Curacao next

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. » Move over Pearl City, you now have company in Hawaii Little League lore. West Oahu's Ewa Beach Little League team beat Rancho Buena Vista (Calif.) 6-1 yesterday to win the U.S. championship and become the second team from Hawaii to play for the Little League World Series title. An overflow crowd of 20,791 watched the game on a cool Pennsylvania afternoon.

Pearl City made its run in 1988, winning the U.S. crown before falling to Chinese Taipei 10-0 in the final. Ewa Beach has its chance today to do Pearl City one better, meeting defending champion Curacao at 9:30 a.m. Hawaii time. Curacao advanced to its second consecutive final by beating Japan 2-0.

"It's great to be the U.S. champion," Ewa Beach manager Layton Aliviado said. "It's a dream come true. We're so happy.

"I had faith in these boys."

Alakai Aglipay escaped several jams on the mound and Ewa Beach's offense woke up midway through the game to send the Oahu team into the final.

"California was a tough team, but we got lucky when we started hitting and they replaced (their starting pitcher)," Aliviado said.

Ewa Beach first baseman Layson Aliviado celebrates making the last out of the game.

Just like in Thursday's win over Louisiana, Ewa Beach was held hitless the first three innings. But just like Thursday, the fourth inning was magic.

Kini Enos reached on an error to start things off. Aglipay then walked, bringing up Thursday's hero, Sheyne Baniaga.

On Thursday, Baniaga made Ewa Beach's lone hit count -- smacking a two-run homer in the fourth inning of the 2-0 win.

Yesterday, he jumped all over a Nathan Lewis offering and singled between shortstop and third base to drive home the game's first run.

After Vista manager Marty Miller brought in center fielder Reed Reznicek to pitch, Reznicek plunked Michael Memea in the head and Vonn Feao reached on a fielder's choice to drive in a run. Quentin Guevara and Layson Aliviado each walked with the bases loaded and Ewa Beach was suddenly up 4-0 heading to the fifth.

"(Lewis) kept us off balance. He was fishing for outside (strikes) and we had to adjust," Layton Aliviado said. "He's a good skill pitcher. I was surprised they pulled him off."

When it looked like Ewa Beach would be held homerless for the first time in the LLWS, Feao blasted a two-out, two-run shot in the fifth to complete the scoring.

It was Feao's third long ball of the tournament and the team's 10th overall.

The game's smallest player, the 4-foot, 6-inch Layson Aliviado, made the best defensive play of the game when he reached down and gloved a smash off the bat of cleanup hitter Royce Copeland in the first. Aliviado stepped on first for the third out of the inning. His defensive gem probably saved a run, or at least a first-and-third situation early in the game. Vista's top power-hitter, Kalen Pimentel, had singled in front of Copeland.

Aglipay was obviously not as sharp as he had been in previous games (he entered the contest with a streak of 15 1/3 scoreless innings -- eight in the LLWS), struggling with his control early on. But after he walked Vista's Dylan Demeyer to open the third, catcher Memea threw out the baserunner trying to steal second. Aglipay settled down to strike out the next four batters. Through the first four innings, he allowed only one batter to reach second.

Ewa Beach ran into trouble in the fifth, but minimized the damage thanks to heads-up fielding by Enos at shortstop. With one run in, the bases loaded and one out -- and starter Aglipay replaced by Feao -- Pimentel hit a flare that Enos snagged. Seeing that Vista's baserunner at second had wandered off the bag, Enos fired to second to double him off and complete the double play.

"Getting out of the jam was bigger than hitting the home run," Feao said. "It was a relief."

Said Aliviado: "The pitch was low and outside where we wanted it, and (Pimentel) just hit under it."

Aglipay earned his second win of the tournament (Enos has two and Guevara the other), striking out six and walking six in 5 1/3 innings. He allowed a baserunner every inning, but gave up just the run on two hits.

Guevara closed out the game with a scoreless sixth.

Aliviado said Guevara will start today's championship game. It will be Guevara's first start of the tournament.

Baniaga had a hit and two runs scored and Feao also scored twice.

"We're going to approach (today's) game the same way we do every game," Aliviado said.

Little League World Series

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