New Team Canada crowned as Little League championship wraps up in Ancaster
Meet the pitcher known as 'Beef Dip' and the rest of the Coquitlam A's
Following more than a week of fierce competition in Ancaster, the team that will represent Canada at the Little League World Series has been crowned.
CBC Sports reporter Matthew Cullen followed the tournament closely, providing the play-by-play for every game. We caught up with him to get some final thoughts on Ancaster, the big game and Team Canada's chances as they head to the Little League World Series.
So, who came out on top?
It was Coquitlam, B.C. I think this year more than past years they were really tested. They played against Mirabel, Que. in the final. It was a great ball game. Quebec did make it close in the last inning, but 14 times out of the past 15 years, B.C. has gone on to the Little League World Series.
Let's talk about that dynasty. Is that discouraging for other teams?
B.C. is certainly a great baseball province. The season is longer out there. You don't have the cold winters in the Lower Mainland so a lot of these B.C. teams are playing in March, April. If you think of the spring we had, nobody here is on the Diamond in March. So they get a couple extra months of practice.
A lot of these B.C. teams as well play on travel teams during the winter months ... and go down to Arizona, California to play baseball. I don't think it discourages anybody. Mirabel was really close this year and a lot of people thought they were the favourite with the bats they had. Even in the semi-final, the team from Ottawa gave B.C. all they could handle. I think teams next year will come hungry.
So what made the difference for B.C.?
B.C. had the big ace on the mound, Matthew Shanley. He actually pitched a no-hitter through almost a complete game. He had 13 strikeouts. The Quebec batters were really good throughout the tournament. But when Shanley got on the mound and Shanley started throwing his fastball that was where Quebec found their match.
I hear his nickname is Beef Dip?
He's a funny kid. He's got a great personality. I asked him why people call him that and he said, "It just sort of started and it ran away from there." He's a big guy. He's 5'9," 150 pounds and he's 12 years old and he can throw a good fastball. There were all sorts of nicknames [at the championship]. We had a Cowboy in Alberta, a Pirate.
Everybody, here is your introduction to Canadian little league star Matthew 'Beef Dip' Shanley <a href="https://t.co/i1vfxoaDjo">pic.twitter.com/i1vfxoaDjo</a>—@cbcsports
What does Team Canada face now?
They'll play Mexico on Friday. For reference, the team last year, from Whalley B.C. beat Mexico in a very tight game. But for sure to open up the tournament against a team like that, that's going to be tough. The way the Little League World Series works is it's a double-loss knockout. So losing your first game puts you under pressure the whole way because that means the rest of the way you can't lose.
How about the hometown team, Ancaster?
They did very well. It's always tough being the host team because you're the one team that didn't qualify out of the provincial championship. Ancaster finished with one win in the tournament and five losses, but a lot of their games were really close. They kind of got stuck in the middle of the tournament, they couldn't get the hits going. Overall it was a great showing.
They're a young team ... they had a couple of 11-year-olds and a 10-year-old on the team. That means those guys will be back in the same division next year. Knowing what it's like to play in a national championship, the fire to try and qualify will be there.
Big shout out to the <a href="https://twitter.com/CoquitlamLL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CoquitlamLL</a> A's for winning this year's <a href="https://twitter.com/LittleLgeCanada?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@LittleLgeCanada</a> championship!<br><br>Every team played hard and it was a pleasure to cover <a href="https://twitter.com/cbcsports?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@cbcsports</a> in Ancaster . <br><br>On to the <a href="https://twitter.com/LittleLeague?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@LittleLeague</a> World Series at Williamsport! Go get em!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PlayBall?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PlayBall</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/littleleagueworldseries?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#littleleagueworldseries</a> <a href="https://t.co/jPyMTKJMzk">pic.twitter.com/jPyMTKJMzk</a>—@MattCullenLive
Any final reflections on the tournament?
The tournament is great. I'm always very impressed by how good these kids are. They can play great baseball. The four teams that made the semi-finals — Ontario, Alberta, B.C and Quebec — really anybody could have made it. There was a lot more parity this year than in past years. That's a testament to everybody who's playing good baseball across the country.
The support and the interest in the tournament has really grown. There were a lot of people watching. That was terrific to see. Now the following will get even bigger. Now they're team Canada.