A tough job needed done Tuesday and the Hermiston 11-12 Little League All-Star team knew exactly who to turn to.

Their "junkyard dog", Jason Almaguer.

The young pitcher, who earned his nickname for a devastating curve ball that can trick the most disciplined of batters, pitched three innings of no-hit baseball to close out Centennial 10-3.

The win is Hermiston's fourth in pool play at the State Tournament at Ken Melton Park in Pendleton and puts them into the semifinals as the undisputed top seed.

"I was just trying to throw as best as I can," Almaguer said. "I was just trying to keep them off the bases. I have a really good curveball and that's pretty much why the coach pitches me. My fastball is OK, but people can't hit my curveball."

Almaguer used the hook in a crucial game situation in the sixth inning with Centennial's Michael McGuire at the plate.

McGuire was responsible for all of Centennial's runs, blasting a three-run shot off of Cole Schwirse in the third inning.

With a 2-2 count and a runner on, Almaguer didn't think twice before letting one of his patented curves fly and got McGuire swinging.

"And he was smiling when he did it, that's what is sick," Hermiston coach Jeff Schwirse said. "He has good control and he's not afraid to throw it. A lot of kids don't have the confidence to do that."

Though the pitching of Schwirse and Almaguer got the job done, the Hermiston offense provided plenty of pop to make the work even easier.

The squad posted nine runs on nine hits in the first four innings off starter Drew Galloway, including a game-defining five-spot in the third.

Jesus Rosales and Alex Campbell each put out line-drive home runs to extend the lead to eight. It was a deficit?Centennial wouldn't even begin to chip away at.

Rosales added a solo shot in the sixth as icing on the cake, but said he didn't get a hold of either the way he would have liked.

"He just has amazing bat speed," Schwirse said. "That's what we try to preach to these kids, that it's bat speed and not weight. He just got his bat through the zone quick. (They went) off the handle, but they still went over the short porch they have here."

Hermiston had a day off Wednesday after flying through pool play with four games in four consecutive days.

The rest will give the pitchers - who have been key to Hermiston's success - plenty of rest before Thursday's semi-final game against the winner of Pendleton and Murray Hill.

Rosales, who pitched in Saturday's opener, will throw from the mound again in the championship round.

The winner of the semi-final round will play today at 7 p.m., while the loser will play in the consolation round at 4:30 p.m.



HERMISTON 215 101 - 10 10 0

CENTENNIAL 003 000 - 3 4 3

Cole Schwirse, Jason Almaguer (4) and Sean Smith. Drew Galloway, Steele Myers (5) and Myers, A.J. Wienke (4). W - Schwirse; L - Galloway; S - Almaguer

2B - Galloway (Centennial) HR - Jesus Rosales (2), Alex Campbell (Hermiston); Michael McGuire (Centennial).

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