If it’s true that revenge is a dish best served cold, then the young members of the White Rock All-Stars picked the perfect time for retribution.
Last weekend, the 11/12 year-old all-star baseball squad captured a provincial title – White Rock-South Surrey Baseball Association’s first in five years – with a 4-2 come-from-behind win over Hastings Little League Sunday at Kerrisdale’s Elm Park.
Two years ago, in the title game of B.C. Little League championships, it was Hastings that came out on top, edging White Rock for the win.
“We met in the final as 10-year-old teams, and two years later, it’s still mostly the same kids,” said White Rock coach Jeff Crossley.
“I don’t remember the score of that game back then, but I know it was close, just like this one.
“It’s just two really good teams going at it, and we feel fortunate to have gotten them this time.”
With the win over Hastings – the defending Canadian Little League champions – White Rock now takes aim at national championships, which are being held this year in Glace Bay, N.S.
Coincidentally, the last time a White Rock team advanced to Canadian Little League Championships, in 2008, the tournament was also staged in Glace Bay.
That year, White Rock advanced all the way to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, as they also did the year before, in 2007.
Now, the new team of 12-year-olds will attempt to get there again. They left for Nova Scotia Tuesday, and play their first game Saturday against Saskatchewan.
And as was the case heading into provincials last week, White Rock will likely be considered one of the favourites to win the event, thus punching their ticket to Williamsport.
That kind of expectation comes when you haven’t lost a game in weeks.
At the District 3 championships early last month, White Rock rolled through the tournament with a perfect 6-0 win-loss record, beating Whalley 7-2 in the final.
Then, at provincials, they also went undefeated – even beating Hastings 12-9 in the round-robin.
However, the final game very nearly went the same way it did two years ago, with Hastings emerging victorious.
The Vancouver team led 2-0 heading into the fifth inning, and White Rock had been struggling most of the game to string many hits together.
But in the fifth, with one out, Ryan Dauphinee hit a single, and the next batter, Ethan Scardina, hit a come-backer to the pitcher that – in an attempt to get Dauphinee out at second – he threw into the outfield.
Then, with runners on first and second, Riley Wallack hit a chopper up the first baseline and beat the throw to the bag, loading the bases for Matt Benson.
Benson promptly singled, scoring two runs to tie the game, and the next batter, Matt Mele, repeated the feat, with another single that scored two more runs.
“It was nerve-racking, for sure,” Crossley said. “But the kids showed a lot of strength, not giving up when it looked like we were down to our final six outs.
“It’s a battle-tested group, and they stuck with it, and just kept knocking on the door until they finally broke through.”
Cody Sigouin started the game on the mound for White Rock, but left in the fourth inning and was replaced by relief pitcher Tate Dearing, who was credited with the win.
“Tate really shut the door and closed it out for us,” Crossley said.