After almost a week of games, the tournament came down to two teams, the Sandy Plains Cougars and the Hobgood Heat.
This was not the first time the two teams had faced each other this season. Both Sandy Plains and Hobgood, two teams that are located less than 15 miles from each other in Marietta and Woodstock, Ga., have faced off many times this season with both teams picking up victories.
However, Sandy Plains has been able to win when it matters most, first picking up the victory in the State Tourney Championship and then winning again Thursday to become World Series Champions.
The Cougars scored quickly, pushing six runs across the plate in the top of the first inning. The Heat scored two runs in the bottom of the second inning to make it a 6-2 game.
Sandy Plains threatened to make the game a blowout with three runs in the top of the third and two more in the fourth. However, Hobgood fought back with a five run bottom of the fourth to make the game 11-7.
Hobgood then outscored the Heat 2-1 in the fifth inning to cut the Cougars’ lead down to three.
Despite the comeback by Hobgood, Sandy Plains would add another run in the sixth and then shut down the Heat in their final at-bat for a 13-9 victory and the championship.
“AS usual it was a defensive game and we were fortunate enough to get six runs early,” said Sandy Plains Head Coach Steve Bocca. “That cousin really allowed us to just nibble and you have to give your hats off to Hobgood, which is a phenomenal team.”
Bocca went on to say that this was a complete team effort and that every day someone new would step up and produce.
“That is what it takes to win it all,” he added.
AS for playing a team that they have played so many times for the championship, Bocca summed it up with a quote he got from a friend, “I would rather play the devil I know than to play the unknown.”
“It was great to play [Hobgood] and it gave us a good feeling that if we executed then we could be in the game at the end.”
Both coaches showed their respect for the other team and coaches as well as their players and coaches after the game, with both bragging that they have the “best coaching staff in the world”.
Several players on both teams received all-tourney selection, and Sandy Plains’ Evan Friedman was named the Most Valuable Player of the World Series. Friedman, despite being small in stature, played bigger than life, with timely hitting and superb defense.
“What really sums this kid up is, he doesn’t make many errors but when he does by the next play he isn’t even thinking about it,” said Bocca, “He is always 100-perecen all the team and he really anchored and captained our team.”
“He has more heart than anybody,” Bocca concluded.
As for the tourney itself, overall it was a huge success according to Gordon County Parks and Recreation Director Derrick McDaniel.
“We stayed away from rain and everything else pretty much went to plan and as scheduled,” McDaniel added. “I could not have asked for a better turnout and tournament.”
McDaniel thanked his entire staff for putting so much hard work into the tourney and also thanked the Gordon County Community for their help.
As for the championship game, McDaniel could not have been happier.
“That is the way it should end, with the Georgia State Champion facing the State Runner-up,” he said. “Georgia has the best team.”
Rome Braves third baseman Edward Salcedo and pitcher Roman Pacheco threw out the first pitches of the championship game.