Winners off the diamond
Young Semiahmoo Peninsula baseball players know there’s more to the game than winning.
Members of the 12-year-old Selects squad, comprising members of the White Rock-South Surrey Baseball Association, came home this week from the Cal Ripken World Series lacking wins, but brimming with a wealth of experiences and friendships.
“It was really cool. It was unbelievable how much fun it was. It was so hard to leave,” said player Spencer Bonn.
Spencer said he has a lot of new friends on Facebook – and he even won an award – but that paled in comparison to the great time he had.
“It was an amazing experience,” he enthused.
Held in Aberdeen, Md., the Cal Ripken World Series brings together top 11- and 12-year-old baseball players from around the world.
The Selects earned the right to represent Canada at the series by beating Calgary in a best-of-three qualifying set of games earlier this month.
While the Selects didn’t manage to post any wins, they played nearly errorless games against Mexico and Korea, White Rock assistant coach Melissa Bonn said.
Plus, the team got to face the powerhouse Japanese team – a pre-tournament favourite – first in the series, with one of Japan’s pitchers unofficially clocked at 84 m.p.h. during the game.
Bonn noted players from all the other teams are the best from their entire countries, while the Selects is a team of 14 players only from White Rock and South Surrey.
The Selects lost 9-4 to Australia and 13-2 to the Dominican Republic, but Bonn agreed with son Spencer about the positive experience – the friends made, the fantastic volunteers and organizers and the great facilities in Maryland.
“I am so sad it’s over. It was so much fun,” she said.
“The boys really enjoyed wearing the Canada across their chests and hanging with the boys from from around the world. The Mexicans even borrowed one of our bats – they consider it good luck.”
Japan eventually won the series, beating U.S. champion Ohio Valley in the final.
Two Selects players won awards: Marc Ashford won the Gold Glove Award for defensive play, while Spencer Bonn was awarded the Cal Ripken Sportsmanship Award, which was presented by the umpires from the series.
Ashford, who initially played for the 12-year-old 'A' All-star team that was eliminated from the Little League post-season play by the Langley team that eventually went on to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA.
Along with his Golden Glove award, Ashford was chosen as Player of the Game for Team Canada by the media in the Selects' games against Mexico and Korea. He was also named to the 2011 Rawlings International All-Defense Team as the short stop.
The Cal Ripken World Series is the premier event for Babe Ruth Baseball.