RICHMOND HILL -- Fans drove from Warner Robins to Richmond Hill Park to support their hometown team against its rival from the west, Columbus Northern Little League, on Friday.
But Columbus Northern proved too strong for Warner Robins American Little League and defeated the defending Georgia champs 8-7 to earn a berth in the Little League Baseball Southeastern Regional Tournament, which starts Aug. 2 in Warner Robins.
With back-to-back home runs to lead off the top of the sixth, Warner Robins looked poised to make a comeback but couldnt capitalize on a double and a walk.
The disappointment was palatable, and the tears of frustration were evident on most of the Warner Robins players faces.
As the coaches spoke to the team after the game, they tried to console them.
Its the beginning of moving on, coach Randy Jones said.
Manager Brad King echoed the sentiment.
Its not all about baseball but life lessons, he said.
After the huddle, most players went to their parents arms as they tried to control their emotions.
The team played its most competitive game and left everything on the field.
We were just a few runs short, King said.
It was a disappointing end to a two-year run of being the state champions.
Its painful right now, Jones said.
Columbus Northern has been to the Little League World Series twice, winning the title in 2006. Team manager Randy Morris led the team to the championship then and coached the 2010 Southeast team.
Morris said he was excited about the opportunity to go back to regionals.
We expect to see some great baseball teams, he said.