Little League

A last tip of the cap to Canada's Little Leaguers

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.

Team from Whalley, B.C. honoured at Sunday's Blue Jays game

Canada's Little League team from Whalley, B.C. made one final stop in Toronto to watch the Blue Jays before heading home. (Devin Heroux/CBC Sports)

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:

The team from Whalley B.C. was introduced to the crowd before Sunday's game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies. 0:26

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."

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:

Joey Marino supplied the heroics for Canada in a must win game against Spain with a walk-off single in the 10th to win 2-1. 2:45

Watch highlights from Canada's win over Mexico:

Canadian squad wins 6-4, next faces Puerto Rico in another must-win game. 1:34

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.

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.

About the Author

Devin Heroux

CBC reporter

Devin Heroux reports for CBC News and Sports. He is now based in Toronto, after working first for the CBC in Calgary and Saskatoon.

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