Mother Nature wreaked havoc on Canada's largest amateur baseball event.
Hurricane Odile, a Category 3 storm which caused severe damage after touching down in northern Mexico on Sunday, delayed the return home of the Canadian Junior National Team, leaving the group stranded over 1,864 miles away while their peers competed in the Tournament 12 showcase at Rogers Centre. The hurricane battered the Los Cabos airport in Mexico, causing closures and leaving tourists in the region unable to travel for days.
But the good news is that the staff and players, who helped Canada win bronze at the COPABE 18U Pan American Championship in La Paz and Los Cabos, are safe and on their way out of the affected region.
A group of 20 left for Tijuana, Mexico, via a military plane on Wednesday, and will then bus to Los Angeles before flying back to Canada. There is a second group, including some of the players' parents, who were expected to leave later Wednesday. It's unlikely that any of the groups will fly out of Los Angeles to return to Canada until Thursday.
Jim Baba, the director general of Baseball Canada, said there had been very little communication with those stranded in Mexico until a satellite phone call Wednesday provided the latest update. The team's final plans were then communicated to Baseball Canada president Ray Carter through an email.
The Canadian squad was at one point working with USA Baseball, which was also trapped in the region, on getting a charter flight out of the country en route to San Antonio.
Some of Canada's most prolific youth talents will miss at least over half of the Tournament 12 -- a five-day event featuring the best draft-eligible players in the country -- as a result of the hurricane, and their availability for the rest of the prestigious competition is unclear. While not all members of the Junior National Team were scheduled to take part in the event due to commitments to professional teams and schools, Josh Naylor, Demi Orimoloye and Mike Soroka -- three key members of the program who were featured on the official Tournament 12 program -- are absent.
"Maybe they can come here Friday or Saturday [the last day of the event] and participate," Baba said.
Chris Toman is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.