WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Canada’s historic run at the 2017 Little League World Series has come to an emotional end.
The team from White Rock, B.C., lost 6-2 to Mexico, bringing to an end the deepest run by a Canadian team in almost two decades.
Tears flowed freely after the game.
“There’s a lot of emotion right now, you are so close but I’m so proud of my team,” said Reid Hefflick, who was the starting pitcher against Mexico.
On the hill that overlooks Williamsport’s historic Lamade Stadium, the players, many with tears in their eyes, hugged their parents and coaches. Everyone was emotionally and physically exhausted after what had been almost three months on the road that led here.
“Obviously we came here to win the tournament and we came up short, but everyone on our team is very proud. We gave it our all,” said Kyle Chyzowski, who made a brilliant catch early on to keep the game close before Mexico blew it open an inning later.
“Just looking around and seeing all of the people in the stands wanting to see you play, it’s something I will remember all my life.”
It’s easy to create lasting memories at this event. The players are treated like professionals. Everything from the pristine playing conditions to the fans asking for pictures and autographs helps add to the atmosphere.
“What don’t you take home from here? This is the greatest baseball experience of a kid’s life. There’s nothing better than this,” coach Keith Fluet said. “For us to go 2-2 at the Little League World Series, the second best record all time for Canada, that’s just an amazing accomplishment.”
“Right now the boys are really sad but I think tomorrow, once they’ve had a swim in the pool it will start to hit them [that] this was probably – for most of them – the pinnacle of their baseball career and it’s a great pinnacle to be at.”
For the players and their parents, it will be hard to say goodbye.
“It was a fantastic experience. It’s disappointing not to get this one but at the end off the day the boys played really well,” said Robert Orr, whose son, Robert, hit a home run against Mexico. “I think we over achieved expectations and it was a hell of an experience “
“Sports is about moments and every one of these kids throughout this journey has had a moment and those moments are going to last a lifetime,” Greg Frers said.
“The boys played their hearts out, 2-2 in the Little League World Series is nothing to be upset about. I’m so proud of them,” Erin Usselman said.
For this team, many of whom have played together since t-ball, it will likely be the last time they are all on the field together.
“Some of the boys ultimately won’t play baseball anymore. Unfortunately, because hockey will be their main sport, but hopefully they take something away from this and continue to play, even if it’s just for fun,” said manager Ryan Hefflick.
“I’ve known and played with these guys since I was six and this is the last year I will play with them and they are just an amazing group of kids,” said a choked up Reece Usselman.
This White Rock team will have one more moment together.
The team is expected to fly to Toronto on Saturday. The next day they’ll get to spend some time on the field mingling with their big league heroes before the Blue Jays game.
A fitting end to an amazing journey.