TORONTO -- The Blue Jays provided the ultimate send-off to the Hastings All-Stars baseball team from British Columbia on Sunday afternoon.
Hastings won the Canadian Little League championship on Saturday in Edmonton, Alberta, with an 11-1 victory over the Lethbridge Southwest All-Stars, and were then honored the following day at Rogers Centre.
The British Columbia squad will now represent Canada at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., which begins on Thursday.
Hastings' squad outscored its opponents 74-2 during the seven-game tournament, and cruised to victory in the championship game after scoring 10 runs in the fourth inning against Lethbridge.
"It's an unbelievable feeling," Hastings manager Vito Bordignon told the Edmonton Journal. "For these kids (aged 11 and 12), it's once in a lifetime. They're pumped to go, the bunch of them."
The 12-player squad was honored prior to Toronto's game against the Yankees on Sunday afternoon. They watched batting practice, had the opportunity to meet some players, and were then introduced before the national anthems.
Canada is set to play its first game on Friday afternoon against Mexico. Last year's squad was represented by Langley, British Columbia, and while that club defeated Taiwan for the first time in the country's history, it was eventually eliminated by Japan.
Encarnacion is Blue Jays' Heart and Hustle winner
TORONTO -- Edwin Encarnacion is one of this year's winners for the Heart and Hustle Award, which is presented by the Major League Baseball Players' Alumni Association.
The award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the sport. The MLBPAA formed 30 committees, and one player from each organization was selected based on desire and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field.
Encarnacion will now represent the Blue Jays for a shot at the overall award. All alumni and active players will select a final winner from the 30 team nominees. Last year's overall award went to Angels outfielder Torii Hunter.
The 29-year-old Encarnacion is enjoying a career year for the Blue Jays this season. He entered play on Sunday afternoon hitting .288 with 29 home runs and 77 RBIs in 110 games. Encarnacion also ranked fourth among American League leaders in OPS (.944), tied for fourth in homers, fifth in RBIs, and sixth in times on base (181).
Catcher J.P. Arencibia won the award for the Blue Jays last season. The final winner will be announced Tuesday, November 13, 2012, at the 13th Annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York City. The event is the primary fundraiser for the series of free Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics.