The all-star team from the Bonita-based Sweetwater Valley Little League is scheduled to begin play in the West Regional tournament in San Bernardino Sunday night, facing the Hawaiian champion Waipio Little League all-star team.
Sweetwater Valley qualified for the West Regional by winning the Southern California championship, defeating the Manhattan Beach Little League all-star team two games to none in the best-of-three championship series, including an 18-5 victory in Game 2 last Sunday in Ontario.
The team previously won sectional and divisional tournaments and has a 12-0 record.
“I’ve been told by numerous people, `You know what, you guys are intimidating,”’ Sweetwater Valley manager Ward Lannom told Fox 5. “In looking at it, I think we’ve won half the games before we’ve ever taken the field just by the way we approach the game.”
The tournament format has been switched to modified double elimination from pool play at the behest of Little League International to coincide with the Little League World Series, which is also played with a modified double-elimination format, according to Brian Pickering, Little League International’s assistant Western Region director.
Instead of each of the six teams playing four pool play games to determine the four semifinalists, Saturday’s regional championship game will be played between the winners of Thursday’s winner’s bracket final and Friday’s elimination bracket final.
The tournament will be played at Al Houghton Stadium in San Bernardino. All games through Wednesday will be televised by the ESPN3 broadband network, while the Thursday through Saturday games will be televised by ESPN.
A watch party for tonight’s game 7:30 p.m. game will be held at Pizzo’s Pizzeria, 2322 Proctor Valley Road in Chula Vista, with 20 percent of the proceeds donated to the Sweetwater Valley Little League.
If Sweetwater Valley wins tonight, it will next play at 4:30 p.m. Monday against the all-star team from the Paseo Verde Little League, the Nevada state champion.
A loss would relegate Sweetwater Valley to an elimination bracket game at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday against the loser of Monday’s game between the all-star teams from the Snow Canyon Little League, the Utah state champion, and the winner of today’s game between the all-star teams from the Chandler National Little League, the Arizona state champion, and the Cambrian Park Little League, the Northern California champion.
The tournament winner will advance to the Little League World Series, which is played in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Ten teams from San Diego County have played in the Little League World Series, most recently the Eastlake Little League all-star team from Chula Vista in 2013.
— City News Service