The Elmora Troopers, from Elizabeth, lost 4-1 to a team from River Ridge, Louisiana, Wednesday and was knocked out of the double-elimination tournament.
"You had a city behind you, the state of New Jersey," Coach Jairo Labrador told them after the game. "Elizabeth, New Jersey, is now known in the best light because of this group of boys. OK? Because of you guys and all the work you did...I just want to just thank you guys. I'm serious. Happy graduation day, boys. Go on and be superstars on the big field. It was an honor."
#EYL #Troopers proved that great things are happening in #Elizabeth the boy united our city and state we are so proud of there accomplishments #GreatRun cheer one more time #LetsGoTroopers 👏👏👏👏👏@FlavaFraz21 @MikeTrout @LittleLeague pic.twitter.com/0PZKJbIEGt— Elmora Youth (@ElmoraYouth) August 21, 2019
The team stayed alive Tuesday night be beating Rhode Island 2-0, breaking a scoreless tie by pushing across two runs in the top of the sixth inning as their pitchers held Rhode Island to just one hit.
The Troopers won in the Mid-Atlantic region to reach the Little League World Series and defeated Oregon in the opening game, 6-2, before losing to Hawaii 6-0.
The Elmora Youth League team is named in honor of Thomas Hanratty, a state trooper who was struck by a passing vehicle and killed while walking back to his car during a traffic stop in 1992.
Hanratty played baseball for Elmora, and ever since his death, the league has honored him by nicknaming themselves "the Troopers" and wearing a patch with Hanratty's badge number, 4971, on their uniforms.
Before the team's first game of the tournament Friday, the players were surprised by a few state police troopers and about eight busloads of fans from Elizabeth.
"Honestly, as a grown man, it was emotional," Labrador said. "Because I know what it signifies and what it means to us and our league and what it represents."
After the team was eliminated, Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage announced the city will throw the Elmora Troopers a parade on Friday, September 6, with details to be announced.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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