Sports

Baseball taking Chilliwack kids to Dominican

Twins Colton (left) and Merick Sampson, 11, are on the Team USA U12 baseball team. They will be going to the Dominican Republic in August to play in the Latin American Baseball Classic. - JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS
Twins Colton (left) and Merick Sampson, 11, are on the Team USA U12 baseball team. They will be going to the Dominican Republic in August to play in the Latin American Baseball Classic.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS

Chilliwack twins Colton and Merick Sampson are travelling to the Dominican Republic in mid-August to participate in the Latin American Baseball Classic.

The LABC takes place each year in Santo Domingo, a baseball hotbed that has produced a looooooong list of major leaguers.

That list includes current Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, Boston Red Sox bopper David Ortiz and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols.

In addition to the host Dominicans and the United States, the LABC includes teams from Venezuela, Panama, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Brazil and the Virgin Islands.

The tournament is held at complexes run by the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Colton and Merick will have the opportunity to meet and work with players and coaches in the Diamondbacks organization.

The twins competed against more than 1,000 players to earn a spot on the team.

Team USA is taking 13 players for the 12-and-under squad. The local lads, who hold dual citizenship, will be pitching and playing behind the plate as catchers.

“The team is carrying two catchers as it is very hot and they play double headers every day,” said their dad, Jeff Sampson, whose Michigan birth certificate allows them to play for the US.

Team USA will be coached by former major leaguer Jim Parque. The 37-year-old logged 103 career games as a pitcher  with the Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. He went 13-6 with the White Sox in 2000, striking out 111 in 187 innings with a 4.28 earned-run average.

The boys have been involved with the Chilliwack Minor Baseball Association since they were four years old, and quit playing hockey two years ago to concentrate on baseball year round.

The twins joined their older brother Caelen, crossing the border to Bellingham two or three times a week for training sessions. They also started training at the Chilliwack-based Batters Box Academy, guided by University of British Columbia pitching coach Shawn Corness.

The trip to the Dominican Republic will be expensive, with the financial burden bourne mostly by the players. The Sampson family is hoping the community might help out.

They are also looking for  donations of kids clothes, small toys and baseball gear to give out while they are in the impoverished country.

Anyone who wishes to donate money or other items can contact Jeff Sampson by phone at 604-799-2457 or email at jeffsampson19@hotmail.com.

Lara Sampson can be contacted by phone at 604-799-2458 or email at lsampson7@hotmail.com.

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