ANCASTER, Ont. – The British Columbia Little Leaguers have their sights set on capturing yet another national title for their province as the playoffs begin in Ancaster.
The boys of summer from across Canada have all gathered in the Ontario community about an hour from Toronto this week, hoping to not only win a national championship, but also become this country’s representative at the 2019 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., later this month.
Seven teams from across the country made up of players ranging in age from 10 to 12 years old have now been trimmed down to four teams remaining as the playoffs start Friday.
To begin the semifinals, Quebec will take on Alberta in the first game and B.C. will play Ottawa in the second game.
Teams from B.C., Alberta, the Prairie region, Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic region were all in Ancaster — they included Coquitlam Little League, Calgary West Little League, Mirabel Diamond Baseball, Ottawa West Little League, Moose Jaw Little League, Glace Bay Colonels and the host Ancaster Little League.
The team from B.C. are the favourites going into the playoffs due to the province’s rich history at the event. The Coquitlam squad only dropped one game during the round robin to finish with a 5-1 record. That loss came against Mirabel from Quebec. They also finished with a 5-1 record, losing their last game of the round robin to Ottawa.
Teams from B.C. have been dominant at the national championship throughout the history of the event – in fact, the Coquitlam Little Leaguers are looking to become the 14th B.C. team in the last 15 years to win the national championship.
CBC Sports will have live coverage of the semifinals in Ancaster Friday and the championship game on Saturday. The playoff games and final game will be live-streamed at cbcsports.ca and also broadcast on CBC TV.
Competitive playoff round features top teams
For as much as B.C. has dominated over the years, this week’s tournament has shown the rest of the country is catching up.
Mirabel’s Diamond baseball team is looking to break through against B.C. this year after losing out in the semifinals as the hosts at last year’s championship. And in 2017, Mirabel lost to White Rock, B.C. in the championship game.
The team from Quebec defeated Coquitlam in the round robin, giving them added confidence as the playoff games loom. Not since the Valleyfield Little Leaguers won it all in 1992 has a team from Quebec captured the Canadian Little League title.
Then there’s the team from Ottawa, finishing with a record of 4-2, after defeating Mirabel 8-7 in a comeback victory in their last round-robin game. They’ll now play Coquitlam in the semifinals and seem to be brimming with confidence after knocking off Quebec.
Rich Canadian Little League history
There is a long and rich history when it comes to the Canadian Little League championship. In 1952, Canada became the first international team represented in the Little League Baseball World Series.
In 1958, the Canadian region was officially created with a tournament established between representatives from Ontario and Quebec, with Valleyfield (Que.) winning the inaugural championship.
B.C has dominated over the years, winning a total of 27 times in 54 appearances. The next closest to B.C. are Quebec and Ontario with 13 titles each.
WATCH | 2019 Canadian Little League Championship: Ontario vs. Quebec:
Notable members of past Canadian Championship teams include Michael Saunders (Gordon Head Little League, Victoria, B.C., 1999), Adam Loewen (Kennedy-Surrey Little League, Surrey, B.C., 1996) and Jason Bay (Trail Little League, Trail, B.C., 1990).
No Canadian team has ever won the World Series — the closest Canada ever came was in 1965 when Stoney Creek, Ont., lost in the championship to Connecticut.
This year’s champion in Ancaster will wear the maple leaf in Williamsport at the Little League World Series later this month.