Kevon Perkins remembers the feeling of his team having a World Series title in its grasp moments before it was stripped away.
Two years ago, North Carolina carried a seven-run lead into the final inning against a team from Surfside Beach, only to watch it melt away in the championship game of the Dixie Youth World Series.
North Carolina got its long-awaited revenge Tuesday night. The squad from Brunswick County notched a 4-1 victory to eliminate Surfside Beach from the Dixie Boys World Series at Burton Wells Park and earn a berth in today's championship game against Louisiana.
"We've been waiting on that for two years," Perkins said. "We wanted this."
North Carolina finds itself in a comfortable position for today's schedule -- it is one win away from the tournament title, while Louisiana needs to beat North Carolina twice to win the championship.
Perkins helped get them there. He collected two of North Carolina's eight hits, including a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth to give his squad a pair of insurance runs.
The three-run lead was plenty for Gray Cheers, who tossed a complete game in the victory, allowing only five hits. Finn Melko blasted a solo homer to center field to give South Carolina its lone run of the game, which also tied the game in the fourth inning, but Cheers got his own form of revenge two innings later.
With Dylan Thompson standing at third and only one out, Cheers struck out Melko and cleanup hitter Bryce McCord in back-to-back at-bats to preserve North Carolina's one-run advantage.
"He came up big for us," Perkins said. "That was a big inning."
It led to an unfamiliar departure for Surfside Beach, which won the Dixie Youth and Dixie Junior Boys World Series the past two seasons.
Thompson did his best to keep the team's summer alive, pitching five strong innings and allowing only one run, but the lineup got only five hits to support its ace.
South Carolina defeated Mississippi earlier in the afternoon, 4-3 in nine innings.
"The boys played well, but we just weren't ourselves," Surfside Beach coach Jon Yarbrough said. "We made too many errors in the field; we left too many runners on base. You can't win against a quality team like North Carolina doing those things."