Canada prepares for tonight's tough test against Mexico at Little League World Series
Whalley All-Stars have to win to remain in tournament
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Canada's Little League sluggers from British Columbia are still on a baseball high from Saturday night's thrilling victory over Spain as they head into tonight's elimination game against Mexico.
Joey Marino's walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning kept the Canadians hopes alive at the Little League World Series in Williamsport. The dramatic finish not only secured the 2-1 win over Spain, it sent the Whalley, B.C. team into a frenzied celebration.
Watch highlights of Canada's walk-off win:
But the toughest test is yet to come. Mexico is now in the path of the team's baseball dreams and the head coach knows his players will have to have their best game of the year to keep their season going.
"We feel pretty confident going in," Mike Marino told CBC Sports on Monday morning. "We don't know a lot about [Mexico] but historically they're always good."
After winning its first game of the tournament, Mexico lost Sunday to South Korea to drop them into Monday night's elimination game. The tournament is a double knockout format which means one more loss for either Canada or Mexico and their championship hopes are over.
The Whalley players have been on the road for more than a month now after winning their provincial tournament, then the national championship in Quebec and now in Williamsport. The journey, and the challenges, has brought them closer together.
"We have been going the whole year from fall ball to winter training in the batting cages to spring ball," Marino said. "That's why we're so appreciative of the parents because they were all dedicated to us and this family."
The coach said their all-star pitcher, Ian Huang, is rested and will start tonight against Mexico. Huang also started for the team in their opener against Panama, but was chased early in a 8-3 loss on Friday.
"Having Ian ready to go tonight is a plus," Marino said. "We'll all be ready to go."
The Canadian kids enjoyed a day off Sunday by spending time with some of their Major League Baseball heroes.
The second annual MLB Little League Classic rolled into the baseball city — the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets squared off at historic Bowman Stadium on Sunday night. But before the players took to the field for the regular-season game they spent much of the day with the Little Leaguers.
The highlight for the BC team was taking a selfie with former Toronto Blue Jays player Jose Bautista.
NBD team selfie with <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeyBats19?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JoeyBats19</a> <a href="https://t.co/Dph9hB91uc">pic.twitter.com/Dph9hB91uc</a>—@WLLBALL
Dio Gama was busy collecting selfies and spending time with the Phillies Nick Williams, Maikel Franco and Mets star pitch Noah Syndergaard.
Members of the team soaked up as much baseball knowledge as they could from the pros and will now hope to put it to practice at the plate in Monday night's game against Mexico.