After a win again Nevada on Friday afternoon, the boys from Park View Little League in Chula Vista are just one game away from a magical journey to Williamsport, Penn., home of the Little League World Series.
Friday night, Park View handed a quick 15-2 defeat to Nevada in the Western Regional semifinals in San Bernardino.
Park View hit six home runs in the game, bringing their tournament total to an astounding 34 home runs in just five games. Kiko Garcia hit three home runs and Isaiah Armenta hit two, including a grand slam home run in the bottom of the fourth inning. The game was then called due to Little League's mercy rule.
The team from Chula VIsta now advances to the championship game on Sunday against either Northern California or Arizona. The winner of that game on Sunday will travel to Williamsport.
Should Chula Vista advance, they would be the third team from San Diego County in the last nine years to make it to Williamsport. Oceanside American made it in 2001, and a team from Rancho Buena Vista Little League in Vista made the trip in 2005.
One player from the Vista team knows exactly what the youngsters from Chula Vista are going through.
"I think they're starting to get a little nerves going in their stomach, butterflies," said Kalen Pimentel. "But once they get to the Little League World Series, everything will be fine."
Pimental, who is now almost 17 years old, was one of the stars of the Rancho Buena Vista team. He is about to enter his senior year of high school and is the baseball team's starting catcher. At his Vista home, he showed off mementos from the trip to Williamsport. His jersey is framed, he has his old glove, and a pair of cleats are still dirty and dusty.
"It's cool sitting back and thinking about it, but I still sometimes can't believe I actually went and got put in that spotlight and all that stuff that happened," Pimentel said. "It's a huge, huge part of my baseball past that I look and reflect upon."
Pimentel has some advice for the Chula Vista team.
"Just go out and have fun, enjoy it while you can," the high-schooler said. "It's a once-in-a-life opportunity, try to run with it and go as far as you can with it."