The expectation has been set.
The Hilton Head Dixie Boys All-Stars are not only looking ahead to the state tournament, but to the Dixie Boys World Series next month in Louisiana. The team has one more hurdle at the District 8 tournament at Burton Wells Park, where it finished an unbeaten week with a 19-1, three-inning victory over Beaufort on Thursday.
Hilton Head will play Summerville on Monday at 6 p.m. Summerville would have to win twice to deny Hilton Head a trip to the state tournament.
That's a tall order against a team that won the state title last year as 13-year-olds and has scored 71 runs through four games of this district tournament.
"I think we're capable of winning the World Series," said Hilton Head starter Collin Kaiser, who pitched all three innings and retired the final side on three pitches.
Hilton Head coach Bill Keen said this week his lineup has few weaknesses and that additions like Kaiser and leadoff man Cameron Bent have only strengthened it. But he tempered talk of the ridiculous production, saying walks have led to many easy runs and that Hilton Head's hitting in clutch situations could stand to improve.
He also wasn't pleased after the game with some early baserunning decisions.
"I don't think our bats are really where they need to be at this point," Keen said. "They've got to get better before we go up to state, without a doubt."
Bent was 3 for 3 Thursday and scored each of his four plate appearances. Boyce Kobleur doubled and drove in three runs for Hilton Head, which batted around in the second inning.
William Kelley was 1 for 2 for Beaufort. He stole a base and scored in the first inning.
Summerville 3, Bluffton 2 (seven innings)
Neil Ward did all he could to help his Bluffton team Thursday, but the Summerville All-Stars delivered the knockout blow behind an ace performance of their own.
Summerville pitcher Alonzo Patterson threw all seven innings Thursday, cruising home just under the 95-pitch limit, and struck out 11 while allowing only the two runs. Bluffton was eliminated from the Dixie Boys District 8 tournament.
Bluffton coach Anthony Marzbanian said Patterson disguised his pitches with an unorthodox motion and located well. He praised Ward for success navigating the top of the Summerville lineup.
Ward threw six innings and allowed just four hits. He also went 3 for 3 at the plate with a double.
"I'm extremely proud of my team," Marzbanian said. "People pay lots of money to come see baseball games like what just happened tonight."
Summerville won when Chaz Ellisor singled to open the bottom of the seventh and later came around to score.
Coach Mike Little's team fought off elimination after a 5-3 loss to Hilton Head on Wednesday. He's aware of the challenge Monday.
"They know they have to play their 'A' game again, or it will be over quick," Little said.
Follow assistant sports editor Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.