Some say pitching is the reason the North Scottsdale Rocket Men are in the state Little League tournament.
Others think it’s hitting and fielding that have carried 12 boys in their quest for the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Marty Jones, a pitcher/ outfielder, agrees with all that, but thinks another reason exists for the success of a group of 11- and 12-year-olds who have been playing as a team for only a month.
"Everyone is a friend," Jones said. "We’ve come together great."
Manager Tony Bonacci watched the Rocket Men prepare for Wednesday’s game on Diamond’s miniature diamond and batting cage in the back yard of his Paradise Valley home. Bonacci looked beyond statistics when describing the players.
"These kids gave up their summer to play baseball," Bonacci said. "They have been on the type of ride that makes you believe in the magic of baseball."
With a 10-9 record after Wednesday’s game, the Rocket Men are 5-0 in elimination games and beat two previously undefeated teams in the best-of-three District 6 tournament.
"One of the big things that has meant so much is it’s a different player who steps up all the time," Bonacci said. "None of them stand out. This really is a team."
North Scottsdale will play Pinetop-Lakeside today in Tempe, perennial powerhouse West Valley Arrowhead on Friday and Chandler National, which advanced to the World Series two years ago, on Sunday.
The state winner advances to the Western Regionals Aug. 6-11 in San Bernardino, Calif. The World Series is Aug. 19-28.