Beaufort News

Beaufort keeps World Series title hopes alive

SENECA -- They're starting to get nicknames around here: "Cardiac Kids" has been bandied about, or maybe the Beaufort Blood Pressure Boosters would be appropriate.

But they keep getting the job done.

Beaufort's all-stars squeaked out two one-run victories Monday, beating Georgia 3-2 and knocking off Mississippi 6-5 to stay alive in the Dixie Boys World Series at Shaver Recreation Complex.

And after the former went nine innings and the latter ended with the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at second, it's natural to wonder how many more nail-biters these guys can take.

"I can take ... " manager Mike Smith said, pausing to work through the bracket in his head. "I can take three more."

That's what Beaufort needs to end its remarkable run with a World Series title.

That improbable goal became a bit more realistic after Beaufort survived Monday's grueling schedule, which saw five more teams eliminated as the field was whittled to four.

Moreover, Beaufort came through the grind with its pitching staff in good shape -- only Joel Fickes will be ineligible to pitch today, leaving Smith with starter David Tilton and a relief corps of Luke Smith, Tony Nolan and Shane Dixon, who picked up the win against Mississippi in his first appearance on the mound since the regular season.

Dixon's performance -- he went three innings, striking out five -- might have saved the tournament for Beaufort by preserving the rest of the staff for today's 5 p.m. game against Seneca and a potential title game Wednesday.

"Shane Dixon came in and just threw a heck of a ball game, and we needed that," Smith said. "At this juncture of the summer, it's all about having a fresh arm. If Shane had been pitching all this time, he might not be so fresh. He was out there blowing it pretty hard."

He wasn't the only hero, though.

Tilton, Fickes, Luke Smith and Nolan combined to shut down Georgia in the opener, and the offense provided some late-game heroics.

With Beaufort down to its last out in the eighth, Nolan jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Kane Keith and deposited it over the center field fence to tie the game at 2. An inning later, Rob Dennis lofted a sacrifice fly to right to score Tilton and keep Beaufort alive.

Beaufort fell behind 2-0 in the first in the nightcap, but the bats rallied again. Luke Smith smashed his first home run, a solo shot in the second, to make it 2-1, and Nolan hit a towering two-run shot to left-center to give Beaufort the lead in the third.

Mississippi tied it at three in the fourth, but heads-up baserunning by Dennis and Carson Banks led to single runs in the fourth and fifth, and the bullpen held off Mississippi's furious rally in the seventh, as Luke Smith struck out slugger Jamol Posey to leave the tying run at third.

And the boys from Beaufort survived to play another day, while their fans go scrambling for their blood pressure medication.

"We're fighting off elimination every day," Nolan said. "We have to beat a couple more teams, but we're in the final four right now. We've just got to keep it going."

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