Loudoun South American Little League, from South Riding, Va., could not have asked for a better start to its Little League World Series.

The team’s three aces combined for a no-hitter in a 3-0 win over New England champion Rhode Island on Friday.

The 11- and 12-year-olds on the Southeast regional champions struck out nine batters and allowed two base runners, both on walks. Manager Alan Bowden held all three pitchers, starter Justin Lee, middle reliever Liam Thyen and closer Chase Obstgarten, below pitch count limits so they can all pitch again in the quarterfinals Sunday.

Virginia will face the winner of the Midwest and Great Lakes regional championship. Rhode Island will face the loser of that game.

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“We knew we were going to be facing a lot of great pitching down here,” Rhode Island Manager Chris Promades said. “We’ll get back in the cages and we’ll get right back at it. They’ll get a lot of reps and we’ll work on it and we’ll be ready to go tomorrow. That was a great team, pitching, defense, offense, all the way around. And we put the bat on the ball, they just made some good plays and today the ball just didn’t fall where we needed it to, but we’ll be ready to go. I can guarantee you that.”

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It’s the 52nd no-hitter in Little League World Series history and the first in two years. The last was thrown by Chase Anderson, Matthew Matthijs and Carson Hardee of Greenville, N.C., in 2017.

But Friday, even though Virginia’s pitchers dominated on the mound, it took a while for the team’s bats to come alive.

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After a scoreless first four innings, Virginia’s Kian Henson led off the bottom of the fifth with a single and Brady Yates smacked a two-run home run two batters later. Lee, the next batter, reached on a single up the middle and came around to score on a base hit from Thyen that found the gap between the third baseman and shortstop.

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