Williamsport will have to wait for at least one more summer.
The White Rock All-Stars saw their baseball season end prematurely on the weekend, one game short of the prestigious Little League World Series.
The team of 12-year-olds from the Peninsula – who were representing British Columbia at Canadian Little League Championships in Glace Bay, N.S. – lost the title game Sunday, 5-1 to the East Nepean Eagles from Ontario.
The Ontario champs now advance directly to the Little League World Series, which begins Thursday in Williamsport, Pa.
Until dropping the title game, White Rock had cruised through much of the tournament, racking up a perfect 7-0 record, and had, in fact, not lost in more than a month. The All-Stars had won 22 straight contests, dating back to district and provincial tournaments.
“We just picked the wrong time to lose,” said head coach Jeff Crossley Monday from Nova Scotia, where his team was preparing to board a plane home.
White Rock and Ontario had been the class of the tournament, and the B.C. championships were especially dominant in the round robin, going a perfect 6-0 – with many games ending prematurely due to the mercy rule. They defeated Ontario 9-2 in a round-robin game earlier in the week.
On Sunday morning, White Rock defeated Quebec 11-1 in semifinals to advance to the championship showdown with East Nepean, who edged the hosts from Glace Bay in the other semifinal.
In the final game, White Rock gave up four runs in the first inning – on a leadoff walk, a pass ball, two sacrifices and a pair of doubles – and got on the board in the third inning, when Ryan Dauphinee’s RBI single cut the lead to 4-1.
However, the four-run cushion was quickly restored, as Ontario’s Jack Walsh swatted a solo home run – his ninth dinger of the tournament – in the next inning.
Offensively, White Rock managed just two hits in the game, as Ontario pitcher Angus Adams struck out nine and finished one out short of a complete game.
“We didn’t get off to the start we wanted, and we really couldn’t get much going against their pitcher,” Crossley said. “He was their ace, and he was even better than I thought he was, after watching him in (earlier games).
“He threw hard, he painted the corners. Their guy was just a little bit better than us, and he shut us down. That’s baseball.”
Getting down four runs early threw a wrench into the team’s strategy, Crossley explained.
“If it’s a tight game, you can bunt more, play small-ball to try and get a run here or there, but when you’re down four, you really have to just hope for hits… and hope you can put together a big inning.
“Falling behind early really hurts your options as a coach.”
The loss ends an eight-year run of B.C. teams representing Canada at the Little League World Series.
Ironically, the last non-B.C. squad to advance to the Little League World Series was a team from East Nepean in 2004.
White Rock previously won the Canadian tournament in 2007 and 2008.