KILGORE - The Pineywoods Little League team cruised through their first 2 postseason tournaments. They spent this week on the practice field getting ready for the Texas East state tournament.
Then, at 3:46 PM on Friday, just 25 hours before their first state tournament game, Pineywoods head coach Tim Truman got an email saying his team had been ruled ineligible.
The reason was because one of their teams played a couple games with only 8 kids instead of 9. None of the players on that team are on the state tournament team, but, by definition, that is still against the rules.
Truman says, "To have it taken away because 8 kids played a game instead of 9, it's a tragic heartbreak, it really is."
After receiving word that his team was out, Truman had to tell the players. As you can imagine, that news was devastating to a group of 12-year olds.
"That's the tough part for a 12-year old to swallow. That pill that says I've done what I was asked to do. We played all the games that we're required to play and it's not good enough."
The Pineywoods parents are having a tough time with this news as well. And they're trying to make sense of it all.
"Our son was destroyed." says Misty Baker. She adds, "This was their summer and they planned it to be their summer and now they're done and they don't know what to do with themselves."
The parents say these kids had a dream to make it all the way to the Little League World Series. And they were just a handful of wins away from seeing that dream fulfilled.
A grandmother of one of the players sent a text to the other parents saying, "in my humble opinion, the saddest thing is what these people are teaching their children. They are teaching them that it doesn't matter how well they play baseball, what matters is how your parents can manipulate the situation in order to let you win."
While this news was a shock to the Pineywoods team, the parents say the community has rallied around them throughout this summer.
Daniel Baker says, "The 13 boys that are on that roster have earned every bit of respect that they have. And they definitely put in the time and the effort towards their talent that they deserve it, definitely deserve it."