Langley Majors crowned provincial champs

The Langley All-Stars are representing B.C. at the Canadian Little League majors (11-12) baseball championships in North Vancouver. - photo courtesy of Gordon Lee photography
The Langley All-Stars are representing B.C. at the Canadian Little League majors (11-12) baseball championships in North Vancouver.
— image credit: photo courtesy of Gordon Lee photography

Prior to their semifinal game against Little Mountain on Saturday, the Langley Majors All-Stars were paid a visit by the man who managed the team the only time Langley has made the 11/12 World Series.

Brian Sargent spoke to the team and talked about his Langley Baseball squad which represented Canada at the 1998 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

No Langley team has made it that far since then, although the 2004 squad did make it to the national championships but lost in the semifinals.

"It was very inspirational," said Langley manager Dean Cantelon, about listening to Sargent talk about his squad. In addition to the pep talk, Sargent also provided the team a poster of his ’98 squad, which Langley kept in the dugout for the remainder of the tournament.

This year's crop of 11 and 12-year-olds — the majority of whom were born the year Langley made that World Series — took the big first step towards Williamsport, after capturing the provincial title on Sunday at Victoria's Hampton Park.

Langley won their semifinal game 10-0 and then were crowned B.C. champs thanks to a 6-2 victory in the finals over Hastings, the defending national champions.

They will represent B.C. at the national championships, which run Aug. 6-14 in North Vancouver. At stake is the right to represent Canada at the World Series.

"It was a bit surreal," Cantelon described about the moments following the third and final out of the provincial final, adding what the team had accomplished didn't really sink in immediately.

"The whole tournament itself was like a marathon, with eight games in nine days."

"Defensively, the team was flawless and offensively, the bats carried us," he said.

Cantelon was especially impressed by the team's focus, especially after they blew a late lead against Hastings and lost in 4-3 in the round robin for their only set back of the tournament.

"After the loss, we built our momentum from there," he said.

The defeat came in their third game, but from that point on, Langley was relentless, winning 14-1, 8-2 and 20-4 to close the round robin, and then 10-0 in the semifinals. Overall, they out-scored their opponents 71-16 in eight games.

Another impressive aspect of the team is that they are very well-rounded and not built solely around a couple of stud pitchers and big bats. Instead, the entire line-up is capable of chipping in.

"If a couple of players aren't doing it, someone else just picks it up," Cantelon said.

In the finals, Trevor Miller and Riley Ens both drove in a pair of runs while brothers Yi Fan Pan and Yi An Pan combined to strike out seven batters.

They opened the scoring in the second inning after Ken Dubois drew a walk and then Connor McCreath and Ens hit back-to-back doubles. Miller then belted a two-run home run to open up a 4-0 lead.

Hastings did get two runs back in the bottom half of the inning, thanks to a double and a home run.

The score remained 4-2 until the sixth inning.

Ian Burns' single scored Yi An Pan and then Cole Cantelon scored on a wild pitch.

Hastings did get runners on second and third, but failed to cash either one in.

As a team, Langley hit .330, led by Burns' .435 and Cantelon's .417 batting averages.

Trevor Alcos and Nick Atkinson both hit .333.

McCreath and Yi An Pan led the team with seven RBIs apiece and MIller had six.

Yi An Pan also had two home runs and Langley hit five as a team.

On the mound, Yi Fan Pan picked up two of the team's seven wins and along with his brother, led the way with 11 strikeouts apiece.

Cantelon did not allow a single earned run over his seven innings pitched.

And Colby Ring picked up the team's one save it needed.

photos courtesy of Gordon Lee photography

Yi An Pan gets a hold of a pitch during the B.C. 11/12 Little League provincial championships in Victoria. Langley went 7-1 at the tournament and will represent B.C. at the national championships in North Vancouver.

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