The Hastings All-Stars are going back to the Little League World Series.
The Burnaby/East Vancouver association squad of 11-and 12year olds won the Canadian baseball championships for the second time in four years, sweeping the competition and posting five shutouts, following an 11-1 win over Prairie champion Lethbridge Southwest All-Stars in the national final in Edmonton on Saturday.
Thomas Neal led the way with two hits and four runs batted in, while Burnaby pitcher Cole Dalla-Zanna registered his third win of the competiton, allowing just three hits and striking out seven in four innings work.
Steven Moretto of Burnaby, who led Hastings with 13 RBI at the nationals, also drove in three runs in the final.
Hastings blanked Glace Bay, N.S. 5-0 in the semifinals.
Burnaby outfielder Carson Ho had two hits and a pair of runs in the win. Dalla-Zanna also had two hits, one run and a single RBI.
The All-Stars, including Burnaby's Kolby Buljevic and Noah Hanson-Stafford, won all seven of their games, piling up 74 runs while allowing just two runs to cross home plate.
"They have been playing hard every game. - It's been a great ride right now," said Hastings' manager Vito Bordignon from Toronto. "They play for each other, they respect one another and they have confidence in each other."
Dalla-Zanna led all players with a .579 batting average, including 11 hits and six RBI. He also led all pitchers with 18 strikeouts.
Ataru Yamaguchi was next at .542, while leading the team with 13 hits. Moretto also had 11 hits, scored 11 runs and posted a .478 average.
Hanson-Stafford and Ho also hit more than .425 at the plate, while scoring seven and 12 runs, respectively. Buljevic posted seven hits and five RBI for Hastings at the nationals.
As a team, Hastings batted a sizzling .417, including 80 hits and 48 RBI in 192 trips to the plate.
"It just shows a lot of hard work and is a reflection that we're doing things right and the kids are doing things right, and we're getting results to come from it," said Bordignon.
Hastings opened with a 3-0 victory over Ontario's High Park Braves on Aug. 4. Moretto and Buljevic both had an RBI in the win.
Moretto had two hits, two runs and as many RBI in the team's 12-0 win over Quebec the following day as all five Burnaby players scored at least one run apiece.
Moretto came up huge in the All-Stars' 19-1 romp over Glace Bay in the first meeting between the east and west coast clubs. The 12-year-old infielder drove in seven runs on three hits, while Dalla-Zanna also garnered three hits and scored three runs.
Hastings closed out the round-robin portion of the tournament with shutout wins over host Mill Woods and Lethbridge.
Dalla-Zanna and Ho led the charge against the Edmonton club with two RBI apiece in a 9-0 win. Hanson-Stafford held the hot bat in a 15-0 Hastings' win over Lethbridge on Aug. 8, scoring three runs off two hits with 2 RBI. Buljevic also scored two runs and a pair of RBI.
The Hastings All-Stars left Toronto on Sunday for Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where they will meet Mexico in their opening game of the World Series on Friday, Aug. 17.
At the 2009 Little League World Series, Hastings lost its first game 2-1 to a Mexican team. But Bordignon believes his team will be ready to play.
As well as having four of the top-six batters at the nationals, Hastings also had three of the best arms on the mound.
"We want to be competitive in every single game we play and be in a situation where we can win, and with our pitching and defence it will give us that opportunity," Bordignon said. "I think our bats have adjusted to all kinds of pitching. Sometimes it takes longer, - but we have shown that we can adjust to whatever they throw at us."
All Canada games at the Little League World Series will be broadcast live on either TSN or TSN2.