By Ryan McCracken on August 11, 2017.
Medicine Hat News
Mirabel Diamond Academy and the Lethbridge Southwest All Stars will be out to prove the numbers wrong today at Lovell McDonnell Field.
The pair of major AAA ball teams are slated as the underdogs entering their Canadian Little League Championship semifinal matchups — with Lethbridge (3-3) taking on undefeated White Rock (6-0) at 9 a.m., and Diamond (4-2) squaring off against the Port Arthur Nationals (5-1) at noon — in a tournament that’s been strictly by the numbers thus far, but both teams have what it takes to pull off an upset.
While Port Arthur took a 9-4 victory from Quebec’s Diamond Academy in the round robin, today’s semifinal will settle some unfinished business between the two squads once and for all. Quebec rallied from behind with a 14-run frame to take a 15-5 win over Port Arthur at last year’s national championship in B.C. — preventing the Nats from reaching the semifinals.
But Port Arthur boasts some of the strongest arms in the tournament. Jack Pineau leads all pitchers at the event with a 1.00 earned runs average and 17 strikeouts over seven innings for two wins, while Liam Willmore collected two more victories with 12 strikeouts and a 2.21 earned runs average.
Quebec’s Leonard Lamoureux sits fourth among pitchers in ERA at 2.80 while Raphael Bordeau leads Diamond with two wins and Joel Ouellette has a team-high nine strikeouts.
On offence, Port Arthur infielder Evan Lachimea finished the round robin in a tie for the home run lead alongside White Rock’s Robert Orr at four over six games with 11 RBI, but Mirabel boasts a solid one-two power punch in Thomas Landry and Nathan Mercier, who combined for five home runs with three from Landry, while William Brault leads Diamond with 10 RBI.
In the morning matchup, White Rock will look to continue on what’s been a dominant and prolific run through the tournament — but Lethbridge will likely have a strong response after falling 12-2 in their round robin matchup.
Expect to see Southwest’s Riley Pearce on the hill after finishing the round robin stage with a 1.05 earned runs average over 6 and 2/3 innings. The young righty is also a threat at the dish, sitting just behind the home run leaders with three over six games and 4 RBI. Lyle Steadman leads Lethbridge’s offence with an impressive .625 batting average, good enough for fifth among tournament leaders, but three of the four ahead of him are on the opposing All Stars.
White Rock’s Reid Hefflick went a staggering 15-for-19 for a tournament-best .789 batting average and a second-best 13 RBI, while Orr followed up with four long balls, 10 RBI and a .684 batting average. Lachlan Scardina led the whole event with 14 RBI in the tournament, while his .625 batting average put him fourth among hitters. Medicine Hat’s Evan Morrison rounded out his tournament with a third-best .650 average.
While Lethbridge’s Pearce proved he has the ability to go the distance after throwing 5 and 2/3 in a 7-1 win over the Glace Bay Colonels, White Rock comes prepared with a pair of capable arms to follow up their potent offence. Reece Usselman and Cole Marshall both closed out the round robin with 13 strikeouts, while Usselman’s 2.86 ERA puts him fifth among pitchers at the tournament.
The winners will earn a ticket to Saturday’s 10 a.m. final, and with it a chance to represent Canada at the little League World Series.
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