After struggling in past, Canada is having LLWS success

Canada isn’t known much for baseball. Ice hockey, lacrosse and football reign supreme in the Canada. Heck, anything with ice probably ranks ahead of baseball. But the Great American Pastime may be on the rise in the Great White North and all one has to do is look at the recent success of its Little League teams.

The Canadian teams don’t have the most storied histories here in South Williamsport. Canada’s most successful run came in 1965 when the team from Stony Creek finished second in the world. The nation also placed third in both 1990 and 1998.

Other than those three years, it” been a lot of no-win and one-win trips to the Little League World Series. Since 2000, only four Canadian teams have won two games here in their stop at the Series and two of those times have happened in the last two years.

With last night’s 6-4 win against a much more storied and hallowed Mexican program, Canada has two wins at the Series for the second straight year and will look to add to that today when it takes on the Caribbean Regional champions from Puerto Rico at 3 p.m. at Lamade Stadium.

“Where we’re from, we can play baseball nine, 10 months out of the year and it’s starting to show now,” Canada manager Mike Marino said of his team that hails from Surrey, British Columbia, which is right across the border from Washington State. “We have the facilities, we have the programs, and we have some coaches. It’s definitely starting to show and we’re producing some good baseball players.”

Mexico, on the other hand, is one of the more storied international teams with three World Series titles, three runner-up finishes and six third-place finishes.

None of that mattered last night to Canada, which is just one of four international teams left standing.

“It should help our organization,” Marino said. “It should help everyone in B.C. and maybe families watching or something like that. ‘You know, let’s try our little guy in baseball instead of football or hockey or soccer. Let’s play them in baseball and give it a shot.’ Hopefully it all works out for us.”

Despite baseball not being a top-3 sport, maybe even a top-5, Whalley Little League is still garnering much attention from up north and with Canada watching and maybe America’s Pastime can become Canada’s future.

“We know we have the support from a lot of people back home, all over the country, especially from our neck of the woods. Every night I go home, I have about 30 or 40 texts and 30 or 40 calls,” Marino said. “…It’s pretty cool to be here and we’re happy to be here and we’re happy to be playing some ball.”