For 12 boys and four coaches from Hilton Head Island, the ride started in February and didn't stop until Tuesday.
The Hilton Head All-Stars fell to Troy, 7-3, in the championship game of the 2012 Dixie Youth Baseball AA Region II Machine Pitch World Series in Hartselle, Ala.
"It was a wild run," manager Adam Markowitz said. "Unfortunately today, we hit the ball hard but we didn't find the gaps."
Hilton Head won a draw on Monday that gave them the bye into Tuesday's championship. Troy and Florida champion West Seminole played an early game Tuesday, which Troy won 16-5.
The team watched the early game at the hotel before the went to the park for warm-ups. But they didn't choose a favorite.
"We only know how to play baseball one way," Markowitz said. "It doesn't really matter who we're playing."
On top of the contingent of 60 friends and family members who made the trek to Alabama, Markowitz said the people in Hartselle made the boys and their families feel at home.
"They just did a phenomenal job," Markowitz said. "The hospitality was wonderful, and the host family really took care of our team."
Markowitz said the team's host family brought gift bags to the hotel for the boys when they first arrived, left individual handwritten notes of support for each boy at their hotel each day and, "wore Hilton Head shirts everyday and supported our team the whole way through."
The team was staying in Hartselle Tuesday night before their eight-hour road trip back to the Lowcountry today. The entire team will move up to the minors division next year, and most likely won't play together.
"It has been absolutely amazing to start in February and come the whole way now and be in the championship game, the last game of the year," Markowitz said. "To think of how many teams we've beaten and how many kids have come through for this to happen is amazing."
The Hilton Head Island All-Stars are Tate Miller, Juju Mlodzinski, James Layman, Kyle Markowitz, Tommy Stauffer, Grant Musselman, Brahm Py, Jack Boyce, Jace Blacshear, Austin Murray, Reymar Matos, Cal Bernstein.
Along with Markowitz, the coaches are Bryan Murray, Rod Musselman and Pete Bernstein.
STORY TAGS: baseball, youth, Dixie, AA, All-Stars, World Series, boys, HHBA, Hilton, Head, Troy, championship