Justin Atkinson Delivers
Game-Winning Hit vs. Saipan to Close Out Series Play for Canada
By Mark Rogoff
Surrey, British Columbia All-Stars had been scratching and clawing
all tournament long, looking for that one break-through hit that
would put them over the top.
Justin Atkinson’s run-scoring single to right in the bottom of the
sixth gave Canada a dramatic 2-1 walk-off win in a game featuring a
pair of 0-2 teams. The base knock came after the Surrey All-Stars
had loaded the bases three times and left 11 runners on base in the
first five innings, failing to capitalize on any opportunity.
The Canada Region champs failed to score in their opener versus
Saudi Arabia, collecting five hits and leaving each runner stranded
on base. The Surrey All-Stars then succumbed in the bottom of the
sixth Monday against Venezuela, having the tying run tagged out on
the bases in a 3-2 setback.
“We weren’t hitting bad,” offered Canada first baseman Braeden
Smith. “We were getting hits, just not contributing at the right
Tuesday was a different story for Canada, which finally got a
game-changing hit against Saipan in front of 4,300 at Little League
“I had no grey hair before the game started,” manager Joe Burns said
to a chorus of laughter in the media room. “It was frustrating
leaving all those baserunners.”
“I just wanted to get a hit to score the run or a pop fly to get him
in,” Atkinson said. “(It feels) great because I won the game. Our
team didn’t want to go 0-3 in the World Series.”
Trailing 2-0, Smith started the sixth-inning rally by dumping a
single into right field. Lars Lorenz, who came in to run for Smith,
advanced to second on a wild pitch. Mitchell Comeau then laid down a
bunt just a few feet in front of the plate, where pitcher Harry
Nakamura fielded the ball and threw to third. Lorenze avoided the
tag and slid in safely.
Brody Hawkins came up next, and grounded one to the shortstop Peter
Tonorio, who threw the ball past the first baseman and down the
right-field line. Lorenz scored the tying run, and Comeau, who had
advanced to second during Hawkins’s at-bat on a defensive
indifference, was thrown out at home trying to score.
Hawkins went all the way to third on the play, and was then driven
in by Atkinson.
“I’m just really happy,” said pitcher Jeff Bouchard. “I was really
pumped in the dugout when we started off with the base hit by
“I got up there and every part of my body was shaking, especially
when I had two strikes,” said Smith. “I guess he just kind of left a
curveball hanging and I just tried to put a bat on it. I got lucky
enough and punched it to right-center.”
Not to be forgotten was Bouchard’s effort on the mound. The
13-year-old limited Saipan to one run on two hits and a pair of
walks in a complete-game effort. He also struck out nine.
“I was just hitting the spots most of the time and they just didn’t
hit the ball a lot,” Bouchard said.”
Saipan opened the scoring in the third, when Rocco Reyes was hit by
a pitch with the bases loaded. The inning ended when Leroy Regis was
thrown out at the plate trying to score on a wild pitch.
“It’s feels good,” manager Burns said. “It’s our Stanley Cup. It’s
an incredible feeling.”
Canada ended the tournament 1-2, while Saipan fell to 0-3.
© 2006, Little League Baseball
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