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Cards seize rare opportunity in Williamsport

MLB.com @LangoschMLB

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- The uniqueness of the game, the setting and the day's events that led up to Sunday night's Little League Classic against the Pirates were perhaps best captured in the final moments, when, after a 6-3 loss, the Cardinals didn't retreat to the historic Bowman Field's clubhouse but rather lined up and started walking across the diamond.

There they shook hands with the players against whom they had just competed, a moment that symbolized how this game wasn't just like any other.

View Full Game Coverage

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- The uniqueness of the game, the setting and the day's events that led up to Sunday night's Little League Classic against the Pirates were perhaps best captured in the final moments, when, after a 6-3 loss, the Cardinals didn't retreat to the historic Bowman Field's clubhouse but rather lined up and started walking across the diamond.

There they shook hands with the players against whom they had just competed, a moment that symbolized how this game wasn't just like any other.

View Full Game Coverage

It was a long day, certainly, one that started in Pittsburgh and will end back in St. Louis when the team's charter flight lands in the early morning hours. But in between, the Cardinals spent about 12 hours in Williamsport, where they gave of their time and energy in an effort to connect with baseball's future generation.

"I was proud of our guys. They came into this very open-minded, very others-minded," manager Mike Matheny said. "They had the opportunity to go and really engage, not pass through, but engage with the kids, connect, and hopefully give back to the game that has been so good to them in a small way."

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There were so many poignant moments along the way, from Tommy Pham and Carlos Martinez footing the bill for 200 snow cones at the Little League World Series to Luke Voit snagging Shazza, the Australian team's inflatable kangaroo, to serve as the mascot du jour. There was Seung Hwan Oh jumping out of his seat while watching the team from South Korea score, Kolten Wong bringing the music to the Little League bus and the two LLWS alumni, Lance Lynn and Randal Grichuk, spotting familiar sights.

On a day in which they created memories for the kids, the Cardinals also took home their own.

"When you get to be in front of kids and play a game like this, it doesn't matter, all that [other logistical] stuff," Lynn said. "I was really excited for it."

"Being able to interact face to face with the kids here and be able to hang out and have some laughs, I think that's going to go a long way," added Grichuk. "I think a lot of kids are going to remember that forever."

Video: Cardinals take in LLWS game in Williamsport

The day transitioned from the raucous crowds at the LLWS complex to a more intimate evening setting. The Cardinals and Pirates played in front of 2,596 fans, including members of all 16 teams participating in the LLWS. The atmosphere was quiet, remarked multiple Cardinals players, but refreshing.

Bowman Field marked the third ballpark not traditionally used as a Major League stadium to host the Cardinals in a regular-season game since 1950. They previously played at Aloha Stadium (1997) and Roosevelt Stadium (1956, '57).

"What happened today and the memories that hopefully we were able to take in and hopefully the kids took in is something that's great," said Jedd Gyorko, who connected for a two-run homer. "It's something that I think was a great success, and I think everybody enjoyed themselves. Definitely still a great day regardless how the game ended."

Video: Kolton Wong discusses Little League Classic

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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