All the talk from Beaufort prior to its hosting the Dixie Boys World Series was of its past with one team.
The home squad has eyed Surfside Beach, its nemesis from previous years. But that matchup was on the horizon as the World Series began, and Beaufort had to take care of business in its opener first.
The host squad quickly removed any doubts of their focus Saturday, squashing Virginia 21-1 to earn another shot at the South Carolina state champions.
Beaufort will meet Surfside Beach at 7 tonight on Field 1 at Burton Wells Park. Surfside won the World Series last year at the Dixie Junior Boys level, with many of the same players on this year's Dixie Boys roster. Beaufort finished runner-up to that championship team at the 2010 state tournament.
"The same as last year -- good pitching, good defense, put the bat on the ball," Beaufort second baseman Louis Brown said of expectations of Surfside. "We just need to shut them down like we did (Virginia) today."
Brown said the Virginia squad might have overlooked Beaufort, that the group from Halifax County was riding high from winning its state tournament while the general expectation of a host team is two-and-out. But Beaufort's bats led a barrage and head coach Jim Pike was able to save much of his pitching.
Starter Mattison Pike threw the first three innings. Alex Tokar finished the rest. They combined to allow only two hits.
Also Beaufort's catcher, Tokar said transitioning to a smaller field required some adjustment. In travel tournaments leading up the World Series, the local all-stars played with 60 feet between the mound and home, 5 feet more than the fields at Burton Wells.
Beaufort hitters had little trouble adjusting to Virginia. They chased Virginia starter Ben Major after three batters and piled on from there. Beaufort right fielder Shuler Black launched a three-run home run in the fourth and Connor Lundgaard added a pinch-hit solo home run the next inning.
Virginia cycled through six pitchers during Beaufort's slugfest.
Beaufort's coach said he didn't want to hold anyone back based on the prospect of future matchup, that he wanted to devote his best to winning the first game and go from there. With Surfside next, Pike told his team its wish was granted.
"Whatever y'all did today, do it again tomorrow," Pike said. "... We've got what we wanted."
Surfside Beach defeated Beaufort's Junior Boys team twice during the state tournament in 2010. Beaufort players expect another challenge today.
Surfside defeated Georgia on an adjacent field Saturday night.
"We just need to shut them down like we did (Virginia) today," Black said.