Whalley Major Allstars have been perfect in Quebec so far.
Through the round-robin stage of the 2018 Canadian Little League Championship in Mirabel, the Surrey-based baseball team earned six wins and zero losses.
The most recent victory was today (Wednesday) against Team Quebec (Valleyfield), in a 11-4 win for Whalley, playing as Team B.C.
The game was closer than the score indicated.
“That’s what we call a grind-out win, and we just grinded,” bench boss Mike Marino told the Now-Leader in a phone call.
“Our kids, they’re getting to the end of the tournament, and we knew we had the top seed going in, regardless of whether we won or lost (on Wednesday), so I think we took our foot off the pedal a little bit and were too relaxed and not fully prepared. Even as coaches we didn’t get them prepared as much as we usual do.”
Next up for Whalley is a semifinal game Friday (Aug. 10). With a win, they’d earn a berth in the championship final on Saturday. Both games will be shown on CBC-TV.
The team will have a day off Thursday, Marino said.
“That’s going to be huge for us,” he explained. “I don’t think we’re going to hit or do anything, we’re going to give them a day off to relax. We have a lot of sore bodies, sore arms — not sore arms, just sore legs, you know, aches and pains here and there. I don’t know how the big-leaguers do it, to be honest. Every day, it’s a grind, honestly. These kids have been going, like, every day since June, right. I think it’s time for a break, for a day.”
If the boys win the Canadian championship, they’ll be off to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA from Aug. 16 to 26.
To date, Whalley as an organization has won five Canadian Little League titles.
This year, Whalley opened the tourney on Aug. 2 with a 5-4 win over Team Alberta (South West LL), then demolished Team Ontario (High Park) by a score of 12-2 the following day. Saturday’s action saw the Surrey squad edge the host team (Mirabel Diamond) 1-0, and on Monday the Whalley boys dusted off Team Prairies (Regina Kiwanis) 10-0. On Tuesday afternoon it was another 10-0 win, this time over Team Atlantic (Glace Bay).
The team booked its trip to Quebec after winning the provincial title in Trail on July 28, with a 6-1 victory over Lynn Valley.
In pool play at the tourney in Quebec, seven teams represented regions across Canada. The players are aged 10 to 13.
Whalley’s 13-player roster includes Joey Marino, Andre Juco, Kai Sheck, Ian Huang, Zeaden Pleasants, Nate Colina, Colten Myers, Jaren Ashbee, Ty Grewal, Cole Balkovec, Dio Gama, Jordan Jaramillo and Mattias Brisson. They’re coached by Marino, Lucky Pawa and Dean Mayencourt.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Whalley’s opponent in Friday’s semifinal wasn’t yet known.
“There might be three teams tied for fourth, I believe,” Marino explained. “There’s a game tomorrow because of a rain-out, and if High Park (Team Ontario) wins, they’re in. If Alberta wins, it goes to a math equation. You have to get out your calculator to figure that out.
“We’re going in as the number-one seed, and we feel pretty confident,” Marino added. “We’re definitely not going to take anyone lightly, that’s for sure, we’re going to be full-bore and full focus, put on the gas pedal and ready to go.”