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Kangaroo-jack: Cards swipe Aussie's mascot

MLB.com

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- First came the Rally Squirrel. Then came this year's Rally Cat. But now, St. Louis has taken the Australian Little League's blow-up kangaroo as the team's new good-luck mascot.

When the Cardinals visited the Little League Complex Sunday afternoon before MLB's first Little League Classic, they challenged Australia's players to a game of ping pong. But what started as a harmless game of table tennis quickly turned into, what Australia believes to be, a robbery.

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WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- First came the Rally Squirrel. Then came this year's Rally Cat. But now, St. Louis has taken the Australian Little League's blow-up kangaroo as the team's new good-luck mascot.

When the Cardinals visited the Little League Complex Sunday afternoon before MLB's first Little League Classic, they challenged Australia's players to a game of ping pong. But what started as a harmless game of table tennis quickly turned into, what Australia believes to be, a robbery.

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"They stole it!" The entire Australia team yelled while laughing when asked how the Cardinals ended up with the kangaroo.

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The kangaroo was on full display in the Cardinals' dugout during batting practice before Sunday's Little League Classic, but Australia was unsure who was the culprit. Even Cardinals' first baseman Luke Voit didn't know how the kangaroo joined the team.

"We just got it somehow," Voit said.

This is the second straight year that Hills Little League from Sydney has represented its country at the Little League World Series and both years Skippy the kangaroo came with them. Skippy may seem like a good-luck charm, but he is truly representing "bonehead" actions or referenced as the "dunce cap" as a fun joke, according to Australia manager Chris Swan.

Tweet from @MandyBell02: Looks like the Cardinals adopted Australia's kangaroo. pic.twitter.com/zcjgy0DcaR

Because of a previous incident to Skippy, the Australian team ended up having a second kangaroo this year named Shazza. Shazza is a female and replaced Skippy for a brief period of time. Because the team had two kangaroos, Australia was fine that the Cardinals ended up with one.

"So we had one originally," Swan said. "It got a little bit injured and we left him at one of the training facilities, so we had to find a replacement. We found a replacement and in the meantime, we retrieved the previous Skippy, bandaged him up and that's why we ended up with two. [One of the Cardinals' players] took the second one."

The Cardinals gave Voit the responsibility of handling Shazza Sunday night. Although the team claims her to be the new team mascot -- who Voit called their "Australian Fredbird" -- they do know the real significance of having the kangaroo.

"I think the kids get it if they make a baserunning error or a mental mistake," Voit said. "But it's something fun and something we can take to put in our dugout."

For Sunday night's game, Shazza was taped firmly to a bench in the dugout and the Cardinals proceeded to stuff sunflower seeds and assorted gum in her front pouch while her arms were out in front of her holding a Gatorade cup.

Prior to Sunday's game, Voit claimed that the Cardinals would take Shazza back to St. Louis for the remainder of the season, but instead she was returned to her rightful owners. Maybe the team felt bad to take the kangaroo or maybe -- after the 6-3 loss to the Pirates -- the team realized she didn't have the power of the Rally Cat or Squirrel. Either way, she will remain in Williamsport for the rest of the Little League World Series.

Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore.

St. Louis Cardinals