MEDICINE HAT, AB – After 10 days of baseball at Lovell McDonnell Park, the White Rock All-Stars have emerged as Canadian Little League champions.
Team British Columbia defeated Team Quebec on Saturday afternoon 12-5 to capture their first national Little League title.
Quebec’s Mirabel Diamond Academy got the early jump on Saturday, with a Christophe Lepage Mancini home run leading a three-run first inning.
White Rock got one of those runs back in the top of the second, as second baseman Ty Fluet took a Quebec pitch over the wall to cut the deficit to 3-1.
It was a breakout third inning for Team B.C. with singles from Reid Hefflick and Fluet scoring runs, en route to a six-run performance to boost White Rock’s lead to 7-3.
Hefflick continued his great day at the plate in the fourth inning, as he smacked a single to the outfield to score Robert Orr and boost B.C.’s lead to an 8-3 score.
Going a perfect 4-4 at the plate on Saturday, Hefflick finished the day with a trio of runs batted in.
The final nail in the coffin came in the sixth inning for White Rock, as Kyle Chyzowski unloaded a three-run shot over the wall in centre field to make it a 12-3 game for B.C.
Down to their final appearance at the plate, Quebec’s Raphael Bourdeau collected a two-run homer to close the gap to 12-5, but British Columbia would hang on to win the national title.
It was a perfect tournament for White Rock, posting an undefeated 8-0 record through the round-robin and playoffs, and outscoring their opponents 114-28.
Ace pitcher Reece Usselman threw an exceptional five innings in the championship, allowing just one earned run on three hits with seven strikeouts to his credit.
He said the support shown throughout the lineup was a big reason why White Rock is walking away with a Canadian championship.
“Best team I could ask for,” said Usselman. “We’re all brothers, we always have each other, we pick each other up if we strikeout, we’re always there for each other.”
White Rock manager Ryan Hefflick said when the final pitch was hit to second base, it was hard to contain the emotion of the moment.
“I didn’t even look,” said Hefflick. “When that ball hit the ground, I knew it was a playable ball and it would be an out, but I couldn’t even look. I was just waiting to hear the jubilation, and fortunately it came.”
The season continues for Team B.C. on the largest stage possible, as the team will pack up their gear and represent Canada at the 2017 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania later this month.
Hefflick said the team will try to soak in the experience of wearing the Canadian flag as much as possible.
“We haven’t done it yet, but it’s going to be an absolute honour and privilege,” he said. “Very few people get that privilege to do that and we’re really looking forward to it.”
The Medicine Hat All-Stars finished the tournament in fifth place, winning their final game against Team Atlantic to post a 2-4 record.
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