Canada will have to wait another day to see if it can continue its dramatic run at the Little League World Series.
An elimination game between Canada (2-1) and Puerto Rico (2-1) was postponed because of rain on Tuesday. The game was rescheduled for Wednesday.
The Canadian champions – the Whalley Major Allstars from Surrey, B.C. – are coming off thrilling victories over Mexico and Spain in must-win games after opening the tournament with a loss to Panama.
The winner of the Puerto Rico-Canada game will advance to the international semi-final to face the loser of a Japan-South Korea contest.
Canada beat Spain 2-1 in 10 innings on a walk-off single on Saturday before holding on to knock off Mexico 6-4 on Monday. Mexico had the bases loaded in the ninth, but Canadian reliever Nate Colina got his team out of a jam.
The Whalley team’s resilience has captured the attention of the baseball community in British Columbia.
Nathan Parade de la Feraude, an assistant coach with the Whalley Chiefs senior team, says everyone on his men’s squad has been talking about the Canadian Little Leaguers.
“We play gritty, tough out, hustle baseball,” he said of the Whalley mentality. “It’s no surprise we’ve been able to climb back into games and steal some victories.”
Parade de la Feraude played on the Whalley team that made it to the Little League World Series in 2005 and called it “one of the best summers of my life.”
“My teammates are still the men I call brothers, I still play baseball with a lot of them,” said Parade de la Feraude, who trained some of the current Little Leaguers last summer. “The experience cemented the love of the game in most of us. It gave me the drive to pursue baseball at a college level and to give back as a coach.”
Parade de la Feraude figures registration for Whalley baseball will get a boost because of the Little League success.
David Laing, executive director for Baseball B.C., thinks that could be true for the province as a whole, too.
“I think every time our sport gets publicity, whether it be the Blue Jays being successful or the [Vancouver] Canadians having another playoff run at Nat Bailey [Stadium in Vancouver], or our little leaguers from Whalley running around and taking on the world, it generates good interest, and any time we get good interest, we get more and more people wanting to try our game,” he said.
Laing said the Canadian team came into the event with the right attitude.
“I don’t think anyone within the group had really crazy expectations,” he said. “I think they were just going to go and play and see what happened.”
With files from Gemma Karstens-Smith