White Rock pitcher Matthew Wilkinson winds up to throw a pitch during a round-robin game earlier this week.

White Rock guaranteed semifinal spot at Canadian Little League Championships

White Rock sits with 4-1 record at nationals in Ottawa, with playoff rounds set for the weekend.

It’s been quite a week for the White Rock All-Stars at Canadian Little League Championships.

Through the first five round-robin games at the Barrhaven, Ont.-hosted tournament, the team of Peninsula 12-year-olds currently sits in a tie for second place with a record of four wins and one loss.

On Tuesday, the B.C. representatives – who won a provincial championship last month – scored the biggest, most-lopsided win of the tournament, defeating the Moose Jaw AAA All-Stars 31-0, a win capped with a 19-run third inning before the game ended one inning later on account of the mercy rule.

White Rock wasted little time jumping in front of their Prairie rivals, scoring eight runs in the first inning. They added four more in the top half of the second frame, before exploding for 19 in the third – an inning in which most White Rock batters came to the plate three times apiece.

In total, White Rock had 26 hits, led by Kieran Ritchie and Kole Turner, each of whom had four hits, while combining for nine runs-batted-in.

Of the team’s 26 hits, six of them carried over the outfield fence, as Trent Lenihan, Matthew Wilkinson, Marcus Bradley, Turner and Ritchie – who had two – all hit home runs in the win.

Turner, Jay Mather and Taeo Maisonville all pitched for White Rock, combining to strike out nine Moose Jaw batters in four innings.

On Wednesday, White Rock won its fourth game of the tournament, but by a decidedly closer score – 5-1 over the Lethbridge Red Giants.

Despite the game being lower scoring than the previous day’s game, White Rock still relied heavily on the long ball, with four of the team’s five runs coming as a result of home runs.

In the second inning, Lenihan broke the scoreless draw with a two-run blast – which White Rock head coach Bob Cumiskey called “a real clutch home run” – and Darius Opdam Bak repeated the feat with a two-run shot of his own in the fifth inning to extend the lead.

Making the win even more impressive, Cumiskey said via email Wednesday, was the fact that the Albertans had their top pitcher, Ty Weavers, on the mound.

“It’s going well thus far,” Cumiskey said of his team’s performance at nationals.

Earlier in the tournament, White Rock defeated Montreal’s Notre Dame de Grace Lynx and Nova Scotia champion Glace Bay Colonels, with the team’s only loss coming against the hosts from East Nepean, Ont.

The excitement has extended off the ball diamond, too. On Thursday evening, the team took part in the tournament’s Champions Dinner banquet, with was highlighted by keynote speaker Roberto Alomar, former Toronto Blue Jays star and member of the baseball hall of fame.

“It’s pretty neat for the kids,” said Cumiskey of the tournament’s guest of honour.

White Rock is set to wrap up its round-robin schedule Thursday afternoon with a game against Ontario’s High Park Braves, who sit in first place with an undefeated 5-0 record.

And though a win over the Braves could slide White Rock into top overall spot after round-robin play, the B.C. team is assured of a spot in semifinals Saturday.

Should they advance past semifinals, the championship game is set for Sunday afternoon.

The winner of the Canadian championships will immediately head south to Williamsport, Pa., where, as Canadian champs, they’ll trade in their usual jerseys for ones bearing the red-and-white maple leaf.

White Rock has twice played in Williamsport, in both 2007 and ’08.

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