San Bernardino Each year the Best in the West (12 teams) travel to Al Houghton Stadium in San Bernardino to compete for an opportunity to move on to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the site of the Little League World Series.
Since 1947, Americas little leaguers have dreamed about a mystical World Series scenario. They think about it when the first ball of the summer pops into their glove and they dream about it as their heads hit the pillow at night.
For a lucky few, the dream may be mystical, but the games played under our Southern California sun are real.
The 12 teams came from as far North as Alaska and as far West as Hawaii. The Southern California team from Vista (North of San Diego) was considered the favorite going in. Hawaii, a respected underdog. The Western Regional was on!
Regional pool play dictates that all teams play each other. The best four teams move on to the second round. Two teams traditionally go to Williamsport from this region. on Saturday night, Vista won the Southwest Regional over Tracy of Northern California 7-2 and earned one of the World Series births, Hawaii took the other.
ESPN and a national television audience witnessed Ewa Beach of Hawaii (West Oahu) slug their way into the finals against Idaho outscoring all opponents 75-18 during the week. The Ewa Beach boys "mercied" four of their pool play opponents by 10 runs or more. (Little League rules dictate that a team is victorious if it has a ten run lead after four complete innings).
Hawaiis AlakaI Aglipay was nearly flawless on the mound in striking out 11 Idaho batters while allowing only two hits. Hawaii had big hits from Michael Mamea, Myron Kini" Enost, Sheyne Baniaga, Kaeo Aliviado and Vonn Feao as they beat Idaho. They join Vista (Southern California winner) in Williamsport, Pennsylvania to compete for the Little League World Series Championship to be decided on Sunday, August 28th, on ABC.
Hawaii outscored opposing teams 87-19, but just as impressive was their impact upon their San Bernardino hosts.
Twelve year old little leaguers travel with their families, several thousand miles across the Pacific.
The players made fast friends with their Idaho bunkmates at the tournaments Hilton Hotel downtown. Debbie Aliviado (team mom), Myron Enost, John Baniaga, Jesse Aglipay and other dads made sure that all were welcome to share in their Hilton outdoor daily cookouts. Yes, they brought their Hawaiian food and spirit with them.
ESPN cameras dont miss much. When Ewa Beach hitters strike out (rarely) the hitters tend to smile as they jog back to the dugout. When they hit home runs, they smile too. Harold Reynolds (ESPN announcer) thinks this could be their competitive edge, "never too high, never too low, just enjoy" said Reynolds.
Some of the player's fathers have lost their jobs due to the prolonged string of victories on the mainland. Myron Enost (father of Kini) proudly held a sign for the ESPN national audience that read, "Shorty, it was worth it!" Family and togetherness is the Ewa Beach way.
San Manuel Tribal member Byron Marquez hosted the players and families at his home and at Arrowhead Credit Union Park for a feast and a 66er minor league game.
At the time of this writing Ewa Beach had easily beaten Florida 10 to nothing for their second victory and now advances to the single elimination round.
Vista is also 2-0 and has advanced. Coverage can be seen on ESPN and ESPN 2 during the week. Final, Sunday on ABC.
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