Dio Gama’s solo home run in the bottom of the first inning put Whalley in front early, and the District 3 team never looked back as it rolled to a 6-1 win over Lynn Valley on Saturday to capture the BC Little League title.
Gama looked to be hit by a pitch and awarded first base, but after an umpire collaboration, Gama was sent back to the batter’s box, the pitch ruled to have hit the bat first for a foul-ball strike. The Whalley slugger didn’t argue, he stepped up and promptly lined the next pitch over the left centerfield fence for a 1-0 Whalley lead.
A two-out bases loaded single by Andre Juco in the second inning proved the winning run, as Whalley plated another run on a passed ball for a 3-0 lead. Gama stroked his second solo homer of the game in the bottom of the third to make it 4-0, and the District 3 team’s Kai Sheck knocked in another on a fielder’s choice for a 5-0 lead after three.
The team’s traded runs in the sixth for the 6-1 final.
The Whalley win ended Lynn Valley’s six game winning streak at the provincials. The District 5 team opened the tournament with a dramatic 5-3 extra-innings, walk-off grand slam victory over Whalley, then beat Little Mountain, Beacon Hill, New Westminster and Trail to go a perfect 5-0 in the round robin.
Whalley’s only blemish was the loss to Lynn Valley, as they finished 4-1 in the tournament, then beat Little Mountain 6-2 in the semifinal to set up the championship match.
Ian Huang got the start on the mound and kept the Lynn Valley team off balance all game to earn the victory for Whalley. Armaan Drar took the loss for LV.
Meanwhile, the host Trail All Stars made it to the semifinal but fell in a 5-2 fifth inning comeback to Lynn Valley on Friday.
Trail played solid baseball with pitcher Brady Augustin throwing a no-hitter through four innings and the All Stars jumping out to a 2-0 lead. Trail’s Landan Uzeloc and Calvin Morrison walked to lead off the first inning, and Willem Terwood scored both runners on a hit to right centre then let Augustin work his magic through four innings.
However, a couple of bad bounces dashed the Trail All Stars quest for a sixth BC Little League championship in the ill-fated fiftth.
Lynn Valley led off the inning with a routine grounder to the second baseman that at the last minute took a huge hop. Trail’s Ewan Brown somehow managed to snag it and keep it from going in the outfield, but couldn’t find the handle and the runner was safe at first.
Augustin struck out the second batter on four pitches, however, the next batter walked, and Lynn Valley’s shortstop Armann Drar stepped up and hit a deep fly ball to right. On any other day, in any other inning it would have been the All Stars third out, but on this sun-drenched day two runs scored on a dropped ball to tie the game at two.
A walk to Nick Frers then brought Cameron Macleod to the plate and the catcher launched a three-run home run over the centerfield fence to make it 5-2. Trail got out of the inning, but after putting two men on in the top of the sixth, and the tying run at the plate, Lynn Valley shut the host team down for the victory and berth into Saturday’s final.
Augustin, a Nelson native, struck out six, giving up five runs on two hits, and four walks. Owen Hillen’s effort on the mound for Lynn Valley was impressive, as the young pitcher struck out 11 batters over five innings, giving up two runs on three hits, and two walks.
Whalley travels to Mirabel, Quebec for the Canadian Little League championships Aug. 2 to Aug. 11.