Whalley Little League players Ian Huang (left) and Cole Balkovec, wearing their Team Canada gear, get ready to go live on ESPN’s broadcast of a game Thursday at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. (Photo: twitter.com/WLLBALL)

B.C. Little Leaguers to be honoured at Blue Jays game; PM offers congratulations

Surrey baseball entourage ready to fly home after being on the road for more than a month

A summer of fun and games isn’t over just yet for Whalley Major Allstars.

Canada’s entry in the Little League World Series lost an elimination game Wednesday in Williamsport, capping a spirited run at the Pennsylvanian town’s fabled baseball tournament.

The Surrey-based squad fell 9-4 to a Puerto Rican team in front of more than 2,600 spectators.

The teams were supposed to play Tuesday, but the game was rained out and rescheduled for Wednesday, with the loser eliminated and the winner moving on to play in Thursday’s International bracket semifinal.

PHOTOS: Whalley’s Little League World Series run is over after loss to Puerto Rico.

Heading into action Wednesday, Whalley had won two games (against Spain and Mexico) and lost one (to Panama) during the 10-day tournament, which closes with the championship game Sunday.

The Whalley contingent will remain in Williamsport until early that day, when they’ll travel by bus to Toronto to be honoured at a Blue Jays game, with VIP treatment, before flying home.

It’ll be another long day of travel for the players, coaches and families but, as bench boss Mike Marino told the Now-Leader, “we’re all used to it now.”

The team has been on the road for more than a month, after winning the provincial championship in Trail and the national title in Mirabel, Quebec. From there, they traveled directly to Williamsport.

Marino said his players were disappointed by Wednesday’s loss, but were still having fun.

“This group is funny that way, they’re so resilient. They’re enjoying the moment, enjoying each other, just like we’d won today.

“They’re sad but proud, you know,” the coach continued.

“I really thought we were right there with them. It’s disappointing but awesome because we really thought it was a winable game for us, it really was.”

Following the game, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered his congratulations in a tweet.

“To the young sluggers of (Whalley Little League) in Surrey – your great run at the Little League World Series made fans proud in BC and across the country,” he wrote. “Congratulations on all your success in Canada and in facing the world’s best. Job well done.”

On Friday, the team will play an exhibition game against Team Australia, for fun.

Marino said his players should be proud of getting to the Elite Eight round of the 16-team tournament.

“I’ll take it,” he said. “If someone said to me you’d go 2-2 in the World Series, would you take that? I’d say hell yeah, every day.”

This is the sixth time Whalley Little League has earned a trip to the World Series (previously in 1973, 1978, 1997, 2005 and 2006), and the 21st time that a team from British Columbia has earned the nod, including 13 of the last 14 tournaments.

Whalley’s 13-player roster includes Joey Marino, Andre Juco, Kai Sheck, Ian Huang, Zeaden Pleasants, Nate Colina, Colten Myers, Jaren Ashbee, Ty Grewal, Cole Balkovec, Dio Gama, Jordan Jaramillo and Mattias Brisson. They’re coached by Marino, Lucky Pawa and Dean Mayencourt.

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