Next month, Walnut Groveâ€™s Matt Dalgleish will wear Canadaâ€™s red and white on a Caribbean island that is a global hotspot for tourism and just as notably, baseball.
The 14-year-old pitcher/shortstop, who played junior level ball with the North Langley Red Sox this summer, will represent North Langley Little League on the Team Canada U14 squad at the Latin American Baseball Classic (LABC) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Held from Aug. 6-12, LABC is one of the largest international baseball tournaments in all of Latin America and includes divisions ranging from U9 to U18.
â€œItâ€™s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,â€ said Dalgleish, who has been playing baseball since he was four years old.
This marks the first time in the LABC history that Canada has been invited to participate in a tournament that has a history of featuring numerous future MLB and professional baseball players.
Dalgleish is the only Langley representative on the Canadian squad, but heâ€™s part of a team almost entirely made up of B.C. players.
All but two Team Canada players come from this province. Also on the team are Quinn Smalling, who lives in Livermore, Calif., and whose family is Canadian, and Calgarian Braden Runions-Kahler.
Ten nations have been invited to the 2014 Latin American Baseball Classic and eight have now confirmed with multiple teams: Dominican Republic, British Virgin Islands, Venezuela, St. Croix, St. Thomas, Guyana, the U.S., and Canada. The LABC is awaiting confirmation from Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Columbia.
An average of nine to 14 teams compete per age division.
Closer to home, Dalgleish isnâ€™t one to keep track of his own statistics, only saying that on the mound, he won more games than he lost and recalls that he had one complete game to his credit.
At the plate, Dalgleish batted at the important four spot (cleanup hitter) in the order and said he â€œgot almost a double every game.â€
As a team the Red Sox won about 75 per cent of their games, Dalgleish estimated.
On being named to the B.C. team, and playing on a prominent baseball stage, Dalgleish said, â€œI was really thrilled. Thereâ€™s going to be a lot of scouts there.â€
Dalgleish said how much playing time he sees in Santo Domingo will be completely up to him.
â€œWe all have to earn our spots and if we do, weâ€™ll play a lot,â€ he said. â€œIf we donâ€™t, weâ€™re going to sit.â€
He hopes experiences like the one heâ€™s about to have in the Dominican will provide a springboard to a career in baseball that continues long after his playing days in North Langley come to an end.
â€œIâ€™m going to continue this baseball as long as I can, hopefully go to college and go play baseball down in the States,â€ Dalgleish said.
Away from the diamond, the Walnut Grove Secondary student is looking forward to meeting players from around the world.
â€œItâ€™s going to be a lot of fun,â€ he said.
Led by head coach Sean Wandler and assistant coaches Pat Chaba and Lee Hamilton, LABC â€“ Team Canada includes William Chaba (Vancouver Community Baseball Bantam AA), Landon Currie (Vernon AA Canadians), Matt Dalgleish (North Langley Little League), James Fischer (Okanagan Athletics Bantam AAA) Adrian Flores-Gutierrez (Mount Seymour LL), Brad Hamilton (Kelowna Minor Baseball), William Ireland (Burnaby Minor Bantam AA), Kyle McCormack (Mount Seymour), Davis Mabone (Burnaby Minor Baseball) Brayden Roberts (Surrey Canadian Baseball Association), Braden Runions-Kahler (Babe Ruth Calgary), Luigi Russo (Rutland Minor Baseball Association), Quinn Smalling (Club All Star, California), and Mathew Watson (Vancouver Community).
For tournament information and rosters, click here.