White Rock All-Stars are hoping for a return to the Little League World Series this year. Bob Cumiskey (below)

White Rock All-Stars are hoping for a return to the Little League World Series this year. Bob Cumiskey (below)

Journey begins for boys of summer

White Rock 12-year-olds set for district baseball championships

The long journey to Williamsport begins this week for a handful of Semiahmoo Peninsula baseball players.

But before the team of White Rock 12-year-olds can start thinking about a return trip to the prestigious Little League World Series – White Rock represented Canada at the Pennsylvania event last year – they’ll first have to focus on opponents a little closer to home.

Beginning Saturday (July 9), the White Rock-South Surrey baseball squad will hit the field at District 3 Baseball Championships, squaring off against all-star teams from Coquitlam, Langley and Whalley. White Rock will have home-field advantage, too, with this year’s tournament set to be hosted at South Surrey Athletic Park.

And though the Little League World Series is the end goal for all four teams – “And an awesome end-goal,” says White Rock coach Glenn Kirkpatrick – members of White Rock’s team know full-well the difficulty that first faces them on their home turf.

White Rock has advanced to the World Series three times before – back to back, in 2007 and ’08, plus last summer – and each time, coaches have said advancing out of District 3 is the toughest part of the journey to Williamsport.

“It’s tough to get to, no question about it,” said Kirkpatrick, who was an assistant coach on last year’s team.

“You need to have an awfully good team (to advance), and then you need to get a few breaks along the way.

To illustrate his point, he references a game in last year’s district tournament between White Rock and Whalley.

“White Rock-Whalley is always a coin flip,” Kirkpatrick said. “Last year, in the bottom of the sixth, we hit a line-drive double down the line – it was fair by about an inch – and that won it for us. And Whalley could’ve easily done the same thing to us an inning before, so it’s always close… It’s going to be a great tournament.

“It’s just really, really hard to get out of districts. About six or seven years ago, White Rock might’ve had the best team they’ve ever had, but they never got the chance (to move on) because they got knocked out by Whalley.”

Bob and Kai CumiskeyWhite Rock will open the District 3 tournament Sunday, July 10, at 11 a.m. against Langley, with a second game set for Monday evening against Coquitlam. Playoff games begin July 15, with the championship game scheduled for July 17 at 1 p.m.

The winner of districts will advance to provincial championships in North Vancouver in late July, and the B.C. champ then advances to nationals in early August, which are also set to be played in Vancouver, hosted by Hastings Little League. The winner at nationals earns the right to represent Canada at the Little League World Series later that month.

In most cases, White Rock’s 12-year-old all-star squad features an all-new roster each summer, with the previous year’s players having graduated to an older division. This year, however, two players – shortstop Kai Cumiskey and second baseman Nathan Kirkpatrick – are back from last year’s team that won a national title in Ottawa.

“It’s very cool for them, to get another chance at it,” the coach said.

“They bring a little confidence to the team. And it’s funny, they bring a little professionalism to the ballpark, too, which is a bit of an interesting thing to say about 12-year-olds. But they’ve been there, and they’re a bit more ‘all-business’ than some others. They bring the intensity up, for sure.”

This year’s team is built quite differently than last year’s, Kirkpatrick added.

In 2015, the team was buoyed by a number of power hitters, as well as stud pitcher Matthew Wilkinson, who famously struck out 16 batters in five innings – in one inning he struck out four, after one would-be out made it to first on a third strike wild pitch.

This year, the team will rely on a slew of quality pitchers, good defence and speed, Kirkpatrick said.

“We have to play a little bit of a different game. It’s going to be line-drive hitting and running hard. Last year, we could make two errors in the field, but it didn’t matter because we’d come back and hit four home runs in the next inning,” he said.

“We won’t be mashing like that this year, but we’re still a very, very good team.”

Without looking too far ahead, Kirkpatrick – as well as the two returning players – did admit that memories from last year’s run have started to percolate in his mind. Namely, their whirlwind one-day journey from Ottawa to Williamsport, Penn., host site of the Little League World Series.

“We’d just finished the last game, and they told us our bus was leaving for Williamsport in three hours. We’d already checked out of our hotel – you have to do that. If you plan to stay an extra night, it tells everybody that you’re planning on losing (and not leaving for the worlds immediately),” he laughed.

“We had to go back to the hotel, and pay them a few hundred bucks to let the kids back into their rooms so they could shower and change, then we jumped on the bus for nine or 10 hours.

“But it was the happiest bus ride you’ve ever been on in your life.”

 

Just Posted

William Henry Rawlison was last seen on Sunday, June 20, 2021. (Contributed photo)
Police looking for missing White Rock senior

William Rawlison, last seen on June 20, may be driving to Kamloops

Natalie Brown and Colten Wilke star in the feature film Thunderbird, co-produced by South Surrey-raised Michael Morrison and released this month in Canada, the U.S and the U.K. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey-raised producer helps bring ‘Thunderbird’ to the screen

Michael Morrison guides B.C.-shot thriller with First Nations connection

File photo
Surrey Board of Trade vows ‘a lot of noise’ will be made about tax increases

Huberman calls for comprehensive tax review at all levels of government

2019 Red Serge Gala guests try their luck at roulette. (Simon Lau photo)
High hopes for in-person Red Serge Gala on Semiahmoo Peninsula

28th fundraiser for community safety programs set for Oct. 23 return

TEASER PHOTO ONLY - Hillcrest Drive-In's sign at the end its run in Surrey, in a photo uploaded to cinematreasures.org by hermangotlieb.
SURREY NOW & THEN: The city’s last drive-in, Hillcrest showed movies for 50 years on site turned shopping mall

‘It was a good memory, being the last drive-in in the Lower Mainland, at the time,’ says former operator Jay Daulat

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Most Read