Game 29
West
1 vs.
Northwest 6

Saturday, August 27, 2005
3:30PM ET
Lamade Stadium

 
Hawaii on its own island
Northwest champs from Ewa Beach, Hawaii claim United States championship, beating the West’s Vista, California 6-1

By Mark Rogoff

Former pro golfer and one-time track-and-field Olympic Gold Medal winner Babe Didrikson Zaharias once said, “Winning has always meant much to me, but winning friends has meant the most.”

Players from Vista, California and Ewa Beach, Hawaii won each other over as friends rather quickly while competing in their respective regional tournaments at Little League’s western headquarters in San Bernardino, California.

They swam together in the same pool, played each other in ping pong and ate side by side at the lunch and dinner tables. The kids then hopped on the same plane to Williamsport after Vista took the West region crown and Ewa Beach the Northwest championship.

It was more of the same in the International Grove for the first eight days of the Little League Baseball World Series tournament.

It was a different story on Day 9.

The two teams played a little game of baseball, meeting between the lines to find out who had what it takes to be coined United States Champion. But no need to worry, locking horns against one another in the U.S. title game did not have an effect on their friendships.

“We’ve been around them for so long, you’re bound to make some friends,” said Vista manager Marty Miller. “The coaching staff is friendly and the players are friendly.”

Everyone will undoubtedly go on as friends, regardless of the fact that there had to be a winner. That winner is Hawaii, which picked up a 6-1 victory in front of 20,794 fans at Howard J. Lamade Stadium.

It was a four-run fourth inning and an exclamation-point two-run homer by Vonn Fe’ao in the fifth that gave Hawaii just its second trip to the World Series Championship game in the state’s history.

In 1988, a Pearl City team lost 10-0 to a Chinese Taipei club out of the Asia region.

“It’s just great to be a champion,” said Hawaii skipper Layton Aliviado. “I have faith in these boys. We came here and said our prayers. These boys, they have talent. They are awesome players and are good athletes.”

Aliviado was speaking on behalf of Alaka’i Aglipay, Sheyne Baniaga, Quentin Guevara and Fe’ao, all of whom attended the post-game press conference but hardly uttered a word.

“We don’t show it too much, but we’re happy,” Aliviado said to a chorus of laughter from the media contingent.

The game was scoreless through three and half innings before Hawaii cracked it open with the four runs in the bottom of the fourth, sending 10 to the plate while recording just one hit.

Baniaga knocked in the first run with a single to left that scored Kini Enos, who led off the inning with an infield single to the left side and advanced to second on a wild pitch.

With the bases loaded two batters later, pinch hitter Ethan Javier worked a walk to push across the second run. With the bases full again, Ty Tirpak bounced one to pitcher Nathan Lewis, who overthrew the catcher on a force attempt, making the score 3-0. Following a Zachary Ranit strikeout, Layson Aliviado walked to push across the fourth run.

“It was tough early on,” Aliviado said of the first three innings. “They kept us off balance. We just adjusted and did well. We were lucky.”

Miller blamed the slow start to nerves.

“I think everybody was nervous,” he said. “We had three shutout innings on both sides.”

The loss for the Vista boys was their first in all-star tournament play, snapping a 24-game winning streak that began with a 13-4 triumph over Oceanside American (a Little League World Series participant in 2001) in their first game of the district tournament.

“It is a bitter pill to swallow,” Miller said. “Eventually ‘perfect’ is pretty hard to maintain. You don’t win any games at this level with one run.”

Vista had its chance to climb out of the hole with one out in the fourth, when it loaded the bases on a pair of walks and a hit batsman. Kalen Pimentel, who had already hit a pair of grand slams in pool play, stepped up against Fe’ao, who was summoned to replace starter Aglipay a batter earlier.

The rally ended quickly, however, when Pimentel popped out to shortstop Enos and an eager special pinch runner Dylan Demeyer was doubled off second for the inning-ending doubleplay.

“You can’t expect Kalen to come through with a home run every time,” Miller said. “He’s 12 years old.”

Daniel Gibney had made it 4-1 earlier in the inning after hitting a leadoff triple down the right field line and scoring on a wild pitch.

Aglipay had allowed just one hit over his first four innings of work. He was chased in the fifth after surrendering Gibney’s leadoff triple, striking out Aaron Kim and issuing two walks.

Fe’ao relieved Aglipay with a 2-0 count on Lewis, and hit the Vista hurler on the arm to load the bases. He then got Pimentel to chase the first pitch he saw.

“We just kept it low and outside and he got under it,” Aliviado said.

Added Miller: “(Kalen) normally doesn’t swing at the first pitch. He was way out in front of it.”

Aglipay earned the win, allowing one run on two hits and five walks in 4.1 innings. He fanned six.

After Fe’ao recorded the final two outs of Vista’s fifth, Aliviado summoned Guevara to close it out in the sixth.

Geuvara, who is scheduled to pitch in Sunday’s Word Series Championship, struck out Royce Copeland for the first out. Following a Reed Reznicek walk, he got Johnny Dee to ground out to first baseman Layson Aliviado. The lefty then induced Gibney to ground out to second baseman Baniaga for the final out.

Game Photos

Photos by Kevin Connolley & Jim Connolley


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