WARNER ROBINS -- The temperature wasn’t the only thing heating up at Little League Southeast Park on Wednesday.
The bats also were on fire as the Warner Robins team representing Georgia clinched a spot in the Little League Baseball Southeastern Region Tournament championship game.
A Georgia player said teammates chanted “one more game” after their 7-0 win against West Virginia.
Only the championship game at 8 p.m. Friday stands between them and a trip to the Little League Baseball World Series.
About 2,000 energized fans filled the stands Wednesday, with their chants of “Warner Robins” and “Georgia baseball” getting louder as each inning passed.
Even more watched the game on ESPN2. A number of fans posted on their Facebook pages about watching the game in the air-conditioned comfort of their homes or in break rooms at work.
One of the fans at the game was Mark Goodman, father of Georgia’s Joshua Goodman. Joshua’s grandmother and great-grandfather also were in the stands to cheer him on. The family made signs to hold up for TV.
“It was fun having my grandpa see him play,” Mark Goodman said.
Nerves started kicking in when his son was called in to play.
He said he started holding his breath when his son went into the game.
Joshua Goodman hurt his hand in Friday’s game against Tennessee, and Wednesday marked his return. He substituted during the third inning as catcher.
“It felt good to be back,” he said.
Georgia received two doses of motivation during surprise visits. Before Wednesday’s game, former Atlanta Brave Ryan Klesko met with the team.
Tuesday night, seven members of the 2007 World Series championship team from Warner Robins American Little League met up with the boys to give encouragement. They brought their championship rings and let the Georgia team hold them.
“They told us to never get down on ourselves because nobody’s perfect,” said Joshua Goodman.
Since All-Stars were named July 15, the Warner Robins team has breezed through the district tournaments and advanced to the state tournament in Cartersville, where they outscored their opponents 66-14.
Teams from Warner Robins have been to the regional baseball tournament five times in the last dozen years.
They have been to the World Series twice, winning in 2007.
Warner Robins softball teams have won the 2009 and 2010 Little League Softball World Series.
It is almost expected for these players to be superstars.
Their goal is to go to Williamsport, Pa., where the Little League Baseball World Series will be held Aug. 18-28.
But they still have one more game.
Coach Buddy Deal said the team will take it easy Thursday.
The boys will have breakfast together first thing in the morning and then go to a practice field for batting practice.
Deal plans to give his players the evening off to spend with their families.
Manager Phillip Johnson said he will let the boys sleep in on Friday, do a light hitting session and go back to the hotel to rest.
His plan is to arrive at the ballpark 6:45 p.m. Friday.
“Time flies after that,” Johnson said.
To contact writer Angela Woolen, call 923-5650.