David Tilton needed to say something.
The Beaufort High School baseball team was down, gathered in left field Monday night after Sumter eliminated the Eagles from the Class 4-A Lower State playoffs with a 3-1 victory. The Eagles needed a boost.
The senior Tilton told them to build on what was started. The program advanced as far in the playoffs as it had in almost 30 years, as best Beaufort High coach Scott Mullen could determine.
"No one believed we were going to make it this far," Tilton said. "To be able to do that, everybody should hold their head up and be proud of themselves."
Never miss a local story.
Sumter scored a run in each of its final three innings to advance and face South Aiken on Wednesday. The Gamecocks took no chances in the elimination game, throwing ace Charlie Barnes on three days of rest.
The junior, committed to Clemson, struck out 13 and walked none.
Nasty was the Eagles' favored adjective to describe Barnes' stuff.
"Everything he threw was painting corners," Beaufort High leadoff man Alex Silon said.
Tilton had the best luck, with two hits. But after Sumter took the lead in the sixth, Barnes wasn't allowing any catch-up from the Eagles, who had mustered late-game magic earlier in the playoffs.
After Barnes pitched last week to help Sumter clinch the district championship, coach Joe Norris had hoped for a few solid innings Monday. He got a complete game.
"He's not afraid of the moment," Norris said. "... He's our best guy. If we're going to go home, we're going to go home with our best guy on the mound."
Sumter, facing elimination after falling to South Aiken to open the Lower State bracket, loaded the bases in the fifth with only one out and threatened a big inning again in the sixth.
Each time, Beaufort High starter Bradley Brown was able to keep the Gamecocks close. Carson Gregory gunned down a Gamecocks' runner at the plate to end the sixth, and Brown struck out two Gamecocks in the seventh to strand another run.
The junior Brown learned he would start earlier in the day. He earned congratulations from his teammates and Mullen after the start, despite the outcome.
"We played our (tails) off," Brown said.
Mullen, the Eagles' second-year coach, had a message for his team as it left the dugout for the final time this season.
"Beaufort High baseball will be different from here on out," he said. "I guarantee it."
Sumter 000 011 1 -- 3 8 2
Beaufort High 000 100 0 -- 1 6 1
WP: Charlie Barnes (9-1) 7 IP 1 R, 1 ER, 6 H, 13 K, 0 BB
LP: Bradley Brown 7 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 8 K, 4 BB
Top hitters: Sumter -- River Soles 2 for 3, RBI. Beaufort High -- David Tilton 2 for 3, SB.