The Canadian Little League Championships are in full swing at North Vancouvers Chris Zuehlke Memorial Park with six teams from across the country competing for one berth in the famous Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Wednesday is the final day of round robin play with semifinals Friday and the championship game scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Here are some snapshots from the tournaments opening days:
Langley Little League, freshly crowned British Columbia champs, knocked off host team Mount Seymour from North Vancouver 10-3 in the Battle of B.C. on opening day, Aug. 6, in front of an estimated crowd of more than 1,000 spectators.
Langley starting pitcher Yi An Pan threw a couple of innings before being replaced by someone with a pretty similar repertoire: his twin brother Yi Fan Pan.
The brothers also played shortstop and third base while batting third and fourth in the Langley lineup. Born in Taipei, they moved to Langley in Grade 1 and only took up baseball four years ago, said Langley head coach Jason Andrew, who admitted that even he would not know which was which without the numbers on the jerseys.
Theyre identical twins, I cant tell them apart, said Andrew. I cant tell them apart when theyre on the mound, I cant tell them apart when theyre hitting. Theyre identical in everything they do.
Even their black-rimmed eyeglasses match. What if they were to swap jerseys to mix up an opponent?
Nobody would know, said Andrew with a laugh. Thatd be cheating though, we wouldnt do that.
Mount Seymour manager Pete Matthews said he was happy that his team got to see both brothers on the mound and will be prepared if the teams meet again later in the tournament.
In Little League rumours abound, and they grow, he said. Its like fish stories. Those (twin) boys, before we got here, they were seven feet tall and threw 80 miles an hour. And now all my kids have seen that theyre just 12-year-old kids and theyre just like everybody else.
Matthews was wrong about one thing the twins are actually 13. But they are just kids. How do they decide which one gets to start on the mound for a big game?
They do rock-paper-scissors, said Andrew.
Langley coach Jason Andrew knows a lot about the host Mount Seymour team he owns North Vancouver-based baseball academy X-treme Gaps and has worked with more than half of Seymours players.
Seymours game 1 starting pitcher Cole Ensign is one of those players and Andrew had a game plan to use against his pupil.
I knew he was going to throw great, he said. I told our guys to be very patient, run that pitch count up and stay close.
The plan worked. Ensign struck out the side in the first inning and added two more Ks in the second but reached his maximum pitch count in the third. In the fourth Langley exploded for six runs to blow the game open.
Seymours pitching staff will bounce back, said head coach Pete Matthews.
Our pitching is whats going to take us through this tournament for sure, he said. Our pitching is really deep. Im confident in all our guys.
High Park homers
Torontos High Park Little League, representing Ontario, looked strong through the first two days, notching wins over Prairie representative Rocky Mountain Red Sox from Calgary as well as Mount Seymour while scoring 22 runs and giving up only five.
Against Seymour on Sunday Christopher Procopio belted a two-run homer and finished with four hits and four RBIs. The power is legit on Friday night Procopio was crowned king of the homerun derby, belting three dingers against 10 outs to finish in a tie with Rocky Mountains Tanner Pate before cracking three more in a five-out tiebreaker to win the event.
Ontarios Ryan Kula also had four hits against Mount Seymour and won the game as the starting pitcher, allowing only one hit in the game.
After Sundays games Langley sat in a tie for first place with Quebec and Ontario with 2-0 records while Mount Seymour, Atlantic and Prairie all were still looking for their first wins.
Saturdays opening ceremony featured a bagpiper playing the kids onto the field, a ceremonial first pitch from North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto and an appearance from family members of Chris Zuehlke, the parks namesake.
One thing that did not happen was a planned Canadian Forces flyover. Originally an F-18 was scheduled to buzz the ceremonies but it was not available so an Aurora surveillance plane was subbed into the plans. But when the ceremony started the skies remained clear of everything except for a few floatplanes off in the distance. Where was the Aurora? Organizers said it had to change course its now in Libya.