Duncan Pirates win Hopwo, top mosquito league

After winning the Hopwo Invitational Mosquito Baseball Tournament in Chemainus last month, the Duncan Pirates went on to finish first in their league, which concluded play last week.

The Pirates clinched the league title on June 3 with a win over the Duncan Cardinals, capping off a remarkable season.

"Every game, they surprised me and did something different," coach Amrit Manhas said.

The Pirates went 4-1 at the Hopwo Tournament, opening with a win over the Duncan Cubs, in which they got strong pitching from Clayton Bergstrom and Jake Dorby before Arjan Manhas closed it out. After a loss to the Ladysmith Mariners, the Pirates’ bats came alive as they returned to the win column against the Nanaimo Angels.

The final set the Pirates against the Oceanside Bears. Karter Blandin pitched the first 3 2/3 innings and was nearly flawless, and Arjan Manhas came in to close. The team maxed out in runs in all but one inning as they beat the Bears 12-8. The Saltspring Mariners were voted the most sportsmanlike by the umpires. The only thing missing from the tournament was a team from the host community.

"We had 12 teams, and not one from Chemainus," Chemainus Baseball Association President Phil Simpson said. "That’s two years in a row we haven’t been able to put in a team from Chemainus."

The association is building, Simpson said, and there will be a mosquito team representing Chemainus in the near future. It was at the 2013 Hopwo Tournament that its namesake, Larry Hopwo, announced he was retiring as president of Chemainus Baseball after 35 years, although he remains involved. The tournament is an apt tribute to his legacy.

"The only reason we still have ball in Chemainus is because of him," Simpson said.