Martin County baseball team ready to compete in Little League World Series

'They'll be legends in our community for what they've done,' coach says
Posted at 11:04 AM, Aug 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-16 11:43:25-04

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — The Martin County North Little League team hit the road Friday to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, as they head to the Little League World Series.

The team will not only be representing the Treasure Coast but the state of Florida on the national stage.

Parents like Jason Sullivan and Brooke Lewis are watching their 12-year-old sons live out a childhood dream.

"Get your rest in on that bus. You've got some work to do," Lewis said on a FaceTime call with the team.

The team boarded a charter bus at 4 a.m. Friday in Warner Robbins, Georgia, to continue their travels north after securing their spot in the World Series in Georgia's regional game.

Jason Sullivan, father of Martin County Little League baseball player
Jason Sullivan's son is a pitcher and first baseman on the team.

Just 16 teams out of tens of thousands across the country make it to the Little League World Series.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, families cannot travel with the athletes, nor stay in their hotel rooms.

For parents, that could mean going weeks without seeing their sons, but it's a sacrifice they're ready to make.

"We're really enjoying the ride and trying to keep our emotions down of missing our kids and wanting to grab them and hug them and have them at home so they can finish this up," Sullivan said.

Sullivan's son, Preston, is a pitcher and first baseman. Lewis' son is McClain, a catcher for the team.

They are a part of the first-ever Treasure Coast team to reach the Little League World Series.

A Florida team hasn't been to Williamsport since 2008.

"We're honored, I mean, there's a level of responsibility and accountability when you represent the state of Florida," said Mark Rodgers, the team's manager and coach.

Mark Rodgers, Martin County Little League baseball coach
Coach Mark Rodgers discusses the hard work and determination it takes to make it to the Little League World Series.

It's also Rodgers' first trip to Williamsport in his 24 years of coaching.

"It’s always been a bucket list, you know, it's a grind. ... You can't buy your way in. You earn your way, which makes it really exciting," Rodgers said.

He's seen many good teams and players but has faith this team could bring it home.

"I think more than anything they trusted the process. They put in the time. They're grinders," Rodgers said.

"We knew a long time ago this age group was definitely talented and had it together," Lewis said.

Now, parents count down the days until their sons play on the field they've worked so hard to see.

"It’s surreal for sure," Lewis said.

They will get their names on a sign at their home field, but Rodgers says they stand to have a much bigger legacy.

"They'll be legends in our community for what they've done," Rodgers said.

Their first game in the tournament is Aug. 20.

Because COVID-19 added more costs and restrictions for the players' travel and accommodations, there is an ongoing fundraiser to help the team manage costs.

If they make it to the final game, they will have been out-of-town for nearly a month.

Click here if you would like to donate to the team.