All of that came to a head last week as the organization hosted five Georgia District 1 tournaments at ball fields across the city.
The local teams fared well in the end as the Rockmart 9-and-10-year-olds, 10-and-11-year-olds and 11-and-12-year-old “B” team each placed second in their respective tournaments.
Rockmart’s 9-and-under All-Stars went all the way and won their tournament, defeating Carterville’s All-Stars in a best-of-five series for the championship.
Managed by Chris Culver, the Rockmart squad fought their way to a deciding fifth game with the Purple Hurricanes.
They then came from an 11-3 deficit in the bottom of the sixth and final inning to post an amazing 12-11 victory and clinch the title.
“The kids were joking around during the sixth inning, saying that they were going to call us ‘the comeback kids’,” Culver said.
“We knew the bats would come around eventually but will only three outs we knew it was going to be tough.”
Cartersville had won the first game, 16-14, followed by back-to-back wins by Rockmart, 19-13 and 10-2. The Hurricane’s edged out the host squad, 6-5, in game four, leading to the last chance for both teams.
“We had two one-run games in the series and we won the last one, which is the most important,” Culver said.
Down by eight as they went to bat in the bottom of the sixth, Rockmart immediately got the ball rolling its way as Ty Floyd led off with a single to left field.
Riley McBryde drew a walk followed by a RBI double from Bailey Atkins that put up the first run in Rockmart’s nine-run rally.
Lead-off hitter Sam Sanders was walked and CJ Culver struck out for the first out of the inning.
But his teammates soon picked him up as Markus Smith hit a RBI single and Paine Culver cleared the bases with a three-run double, making it 11-8.
A walk by Brayden Cole and a flyout by Evan Ratcliff led to a two-run double from Floyd as Rockmart went up 11-10 with two outs.
Zoryan Hendrix came in to pinch run for Floyd and reached third on a passed ball as McBryde and Atkins were walked to load the bases.
Sanders then hit a RBI single to left to tie the game and CJ Culver, who had struck out to post the first out of the inning, hit a line drive to the middle of the field to score the game-winning run.
“We’re all proud of this team,” Culver said. “Both our parents and the 9-and-10-year-old parents who came to most of our games as well.”
Smith, Cole and CJ Culver pitched for Rockmart in the final game while Nolan Holland became the go-to fielder for the Jackets in the entire tournament.
The team was set to compete in the 9-year-old North Georgia State Tournament this week in Marietta.
“These kids are capable of doing anything and everything they want to do,” Culver said. “They are honored to play for Rockmart Little League as well as represent the Rockmart community.”
Culver’s coaches on the team are Griff Atkins, Tyson Floyd and Brain Ratcliff.