It looked like Beaufort County might have pulled off a miracle.
Trailing Aiken 4-2 in the top of the sixth Monday in the Dixie Boys State Tournament at Burton Wells Park in Beaufort, Beaufort County followed John Sturgis' lead-off triple with a strikeout, a walk and two more strikeouts.
Strangely, that was enough to score two runs and tie the game. The bubble burst, though, when Aiken scored two more in the bottom half of the sixth, both with two outs, to retake the lead and eventually eliminate Beaufort County, 6-4.
For the second day in a row, misplayed balls in the outfield hurt Beaufort County's chances.
"We let ourselves down with more defensive lapses," coach Darrel Gruel said. "I told the team you've got to make the routine plays. The teams that are beating us are just making the routine plays."
Beaufort County entered the fifth trailing 4-0 before it cut the lead in half.
Tyler Rentz led off with a double and scored when passed balls allowed him to move to third and then home. With two outs, Porter Mahan singled and stole second. Aaron Brentley doubled Mahan in and moved to third on Connor Gruel's single.
But Brentley strayed too far off third base after a ball got away from Aiken catcher Garrett Savell and he was thrown out at third, ending a potential big inning with two runs in.
After a 1-2-3 bottom of the fifth, Beaufort County scored two more in the top of the sixth. After Sturgis' leadoff triple, Henry Schubert struck out. Austin Saunders followed with a walk, and when pitcher Dalton Poole tried to pick him off first, he made a bad throw, allowing Sturgis to score and Saunders to go to second.
Rentz followed with the second strikeout of the inning on a ball in the dirt, but Savell made a bad throw to first, putting runners at first and third. Rentz stole second and then both runners advanced, tying the score, on a passed ball.
Logan Riley stuck out for the second out, and with Chandler Parris at the plate, Rentz was out by 15 feet at home when he tried to score on a ball that strayed just a couple feet from Savell.
Coach Darrel Gruel said he told his team after the loss that they played tough.
"I try to throw the honesty in there," he said. "The baseball in this community is looking up to the teams that are here. The regular season did not prepare us for what we see here."
Aiken advances to play Lexington at 5 p.m. today. The tournament winner will advance to the Dixie Boys World Series in Covington, Ga.
Dixie Boys State Tournament
Through Thursday, Burton Wells Park, Beaufort
Admission: $7 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12. Children under 5 are free.
Monday's scores: Aiken 6, Beaufort County 4; Midland 15, Edisto 3; Sumter 12, Lexington 5; Westminster 11, Georgetown 1
Tuesday's games: Lexington vs. Aiken, 5 p.m.; Midland vs. Westminster, 7 p.m.; Sumter vs. Chester, 8 p.m.