Hastings makes pitch to defend provincial Little League title on road to Williamsport
The Hastings Community all-stars are becoming the new Whalley of Little League baseball in British Columbia, or at least they hope to be.
For years, Whalley was the team to beat in the provincials and now that designation seems to be turning in the direction of northeast Vancouver. Manager Vito Bordignon and his band of 11- and 12-year-olds captured the B.C. crown in 2009 and 2012, and then followed up by winning the nationals before representing Canada at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
They’re back for another crack this summer and figure to have a bull’s-eye branded on them. The 2013 provincial tournament opens Saturday at Elm Park in Vancouver’s Kerrisdale neighbourhood, concluding with the championship final on Sunday, July 28, at 2 p.m.
Bordignon doesn’t mind being considered among the favourites. Better that, he noted, than being on the sidelines watching other teams celebrate success.
“I kind of enjoy it in a certain respect because we were an underdog for so long and, at least now, we are recognized as being a good organization,” he said.
“We’ve been successful in the last four years, so I guess it’s natural to feel that people will be sort of coming after you. We have a pretty strong organization and we’re showing that we’re competitive each year.”
Bordignon conceded the 2013 Hastings all-stars may lack the firepower and arm strength of his previous championship teams but he likes their scrappy attitude.
“I don’t think this team has the same depth as the 2009 and 2012 teams in the aspects of pitching, hitting and fielding but there are some similar qualities,” said the veteran of 30 seasons coaching at Hastings.
“This is a very competitive group and we always seem to find a way to win. So I would never count them out.”
He expects the biggest challenge to come from the always-powerful representative from District 3 — this year it’s White Rock/South Surrey — and North Vancouver’s Forest Hills. He doesn’t know what to expect from Victoria Beacon Hill or Trail, two teams he hasn’t seen play.
“I wouldn’t say we are the team to beat this year but, since we are the defending champions, that automatically puts a bull’s-eye on us,” Bordignon said. “Any team that comes out of District 3 is usually very strong. But I think we are well prepared and ready to go for a good run in this tournament.”
Rounding out the seven-team field are District 1 representative Vancouver Dunbar and host Kerrisdale. The round-robin portion of the event will feature three games a day from Saturday through Friday with the top four advancing to single knockout semifinals next Saturday, July 27.
Winners of the tournament will punch their ticket to the nationals, to be held from Aug. 2-11 in Glace Bay, N.S.
The winner will represent Canada in Williamsport, from Aug. 15-25.
The B.C. champion has won the national tournament the last eight years.
SHORT STOPS: Hastings, host for the 2016 nationals, is receiving a $150,000 grant from the Toronto Blue Jays Care Foundation to upgrade its facility. The work is scheduled to be completed by 2015.
B.C. LITTLE LEAGUE SCHEDULE
11 a.m.: Forest Hills vs. Dunbar
3 p.m.: Kerrisdale vs. Hastings
6 p.m.: White Rock/South Surrey vs. Trail
9 a.m.: Kerrisdale vs. Forest Hills
Noon: Trail vs. Hastings
3 p.m.: Dunbar vs. Beacon Hill
Monday, July 22
Noon: White Rock/South Surrey vs. Dunbar
3 p.m.: Forest Hills vs. Beacon Hill
6 p.m.: Kerrisdale vs. Trail
Tuesday, July 23
Noon: White Rock/South Surrey vs. Beacon Hill
3 p.m.: Trail vs. Dunbar
6 p.m.: Forest Hills vs. Hastings
Wednesday, July 24
Noon: Trail vs. Beacon Hill
3 p.m.: White Rock/South Surrey vs. Hastings
6 p.m.: Kerrisdale vs. Dunbar
Thursday, July 25
Noon: Forest Hills vs. Trail
3 p.m.: Beacon Hill vs. Hastings
6 p.m.: Kerrisdale vs. White Rock/South Surrey
Friday, July 26
Noon: Dunbar vs. Hastings
3 p.m.: Forest Hills vs. White Rock/South Surrey
6 p.m.: Kerrisdale vs. Beacon Hill
Saturday, July 27
Noon: First place vs. Fourth Place
3:30 p.m.: Second vs. Third Place
Sunday, July 28
2 p.m.: Championship Game
* All games played at Elm Park in Vancouver’s Kerrisdale neighbourhood
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
The Canadian champion Hastings All-Star Little League baseball team is greeted by family and friends at Vancouver International Airport after playing in the 2012 World Championships at Williamsport, Pa. They returned on Aug. 27, 2012.
Photograph by: Steve Bosch, PNG Fles