White Rock Little Leaguers pull off big win over Venezuela
Members of the White Rock Little League wait for their flight from Toronto to Newark, N.J., where they will get on a bus to take them to the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania. (Photo by Ryan Hefflick)
Strong pitching powered White Rock's Little Leaguers to a 7-3 win over Venezuela on Sunday in Williamsport, Pa.
And White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin couldn't be happier.
"I'm a fan," said Baldwin of the team from White Rock and South Surrey that won the national championship and the right to represent Canada at the Little League World Series.
"I'm amazed at their skill level. They carry our name and they have represented White Rock and Surrey well. It's a really neat thing."
Baldwin's grandson Max plays on an all-star Little League team so he's not a stranger to the game. He said it has been a good year for White Rock - a girls' fast pitch team won a national championship this year.
"We're proud of them all," he said.
Reid Hefflick — who also hit a three-run home run in the top of the first — struck out 7 batters in 3.2 innings before giving way to Reece Usselman, who shut down the Venezuelans over the final 2.1 innings, walking two but giving up just one hit.
Hefflick's homer in the top of the first got the Canadians off to a strong start, before the Venezuela team pulled back a pair in the home half of the inning.
Hefflick's dad and team coach Ryan Hefflick called it a "fantastic game."
"We had an excellent pitching performance," said Hefflick Sunday.
The Canadians kept cruising, picking up another run in the top of the second as Robert Orr plated Daniel Orfaly.
Nate Factor then hit another 3-run home run in the top of the third to blow the game wide open. The Venezuelans got a single run in the bottom of the inning to make the score 7-3.
Hefflick said the players have acclimated to playing before the big crowds and on Sunday they were mingling with major league players and were interviewed by some of the top baseball analysts in the U.S.
"It's a pretty incredible experience for these boys but after we take to the field it's a regular baseball game," he said.
Neither team scored in the final three innings, as Usselman duelled with Venezuelan reliever Daniel Acurero.
The Canadians are now off to a semi final against Japan on Wednesday (noon on TSN 5). The Japanese team defeated South Korea 4-1 on Sunday. The winner of Canada vs. Japan gets a spot in the international final on Saturday; the loser will get a second crack at a spot in the final on Thursday.
— with a file from Lora Grindlay