A last tip of the cap to Canada's Little Leaguers
Team from Whalley, B.C. honoured at Sunday's Blue Jays game
There was one last tip of the cap to Canada's Little League baseball team ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays' 8-3 loss to visiting Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon.
Click on the video player below to watch the Whalley boys get honoured:
Fresh off of their success at the Little League World Series, the Whalley, B.C. sluggers boarded their team bus early in the morning and travelled from Williamsport, Pa., to Toronto for one last baseball stop on what's turned out to be a dream summer tour that started in British Columbia more than a month ago.
The 13 players alongside their coaches were introduced on the field inside Rogers Centre — for many, it was their first time inside a major league ballpark.
"This is unbelievable. The boys are super pumped to be here," head coach Mike Marino said while walking into the stadium. "We're still talking about those games in Williamsport. We're happy with how it went."
Sitting on the field at <a href="https://twitter.com/RogersCentre?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RogersCentre</a> watching <a href="https://twitter.com/BlueJays?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BlueJays</a> pregame! <a href="https://t.co/C4V0CjuLo9">pic.twitter.com/C4V0CjuLo9</a>—@WLLBALL
The Whalley team captured the imagination of the country after winning two thrilling games over Spain and Mexico at the Little League World Series. The young sluggers were starry-eyed one last time before flying back home as they spent some time with their big league heroes prior to first pitch.
Watch highlights from Canada's thrilling walk-off win:
Watch highlights from Canada's win over Mexico:
But Sunday's game wasn't the first Major League Baseball experience during Whalley's Little League World Series tour. The team also spent time with players from the New York Mets and Phillies a week earlier during the Little League Baseball Classic at historic Bowman Stadium in Williamsport.
Highlights included selfies with some of the best in the game — even former Blue Jays' slugger Jose Bautista took time with the Canadians.
Despite not winning Canada's first-ever Little League World Series title, Marino says this experience will go a long way in helping the kids move forward in sport and in their lives.
"We've made memories that will last a lifetime," Marino said.
Going out in style
After being eliminated from contention on Wednesday against Puerto Rico, the team stuck around Williamsport to soak up a little bit more of the baseball atmosphere. They also arranged a friendly game with Australia on Friday morning.
And now the Canadian kids are scooping up some dirt from the infield to remember this moment. <br><br>Whoa. Emotional... you bet. What a moment. <a href="https://t.co/VBDU4Zp5Q1">pic.twitter.com/VBDU4Zp5Q1</a>—@Devin_Heroux
The Canadian team fell behind early in the game, trailing 4-1 after the first inning but mounted a charge — then one last dramatic moment to end what was a memorable summer of baseball for the Whalley team.
With the game tied 4-4 and the Canadians looking for victory, Dio Gama stepped to the plate.
Gama's journey to get to the tournament is well-documented. The 13-year-old wasn't originally going to the Little League World Series due to immigration issues relating to his family. However, Canada's Immigration Minister stepped in and granted Gama a temporary visitor permit to join his team.
With a runner on base, Gama hit a walk-off home run to lead the Canadians to victory over Australia leaving the team with a winning taste before departing.
Storybook ending for 🇨🇦<a href="https://twitter.com/WLLBALL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WLLBALL</a> at Little League World Series. <br><br>Dio Gama hits walk off home run to lead Canada to 6-4 win over Australia in friendly game. <br><br>Remarkable. <a href="https://t.co/NePhDum0nG">pic.twitter.com/NePhDum0nG</a>—@Devin_Heroux