The way its tournament had gone, Hilton Head Island's Dixie Boys all-star team knew its bats would finally awaken.
Hilton Head, playing Mount Pleasant for the District I championship Thursday night, didn't manage its first hit until the sixth inning, but then rolled to an 8-1 victory at Crossings Park.
The island's 14-year-old all-stars advance to the Dixie Boys state tournament in Aiken.
Tommy Cooper started Hilton Head's sixth-inning rally by reaching on an error. Alec Ambrosic delivered the team's first hit, driving in two. Hilton Head piled on during the inning with a two-out rally.
"I just wanted a hit," Ambrosic said. "Just to get anybody in."
Said Cooper: "We had to get pumped up somehow. Hits just keep coming one after another. You just can't stop it."
Before that, Mount Pleasant's pitchers held Hilton Head down -- no easy task after the numbers the host team posted during the early rounds. Hilton Head won its opener 25-7 this week, and on Wednesday defeated Mount Pleasant 10-0.
So the goose eggs on the scoreboard through five innings were an unfamiliar sight.
Cooper started on the mound for Hilton Head and did not allow a run, scattering three hits through five innings. He gave way to Caleb Workman, a tall lefty who ensured there would be no comeback.
Mount Pleasant was trying to force another game. It rolled past Hanahan, 16-0, in the early game Thursday. After a 30-minute break, the Charleston-area team took the field as the home team.
Hilton Head figured its opponent's pitching was thin going into the second game of the night. But it didn't show until late.
Hilton Head celebrated its victory with a dogpile at the mound. After a trophy presentation, the all-stars donned T-shirts declaring them champions and posed for pictures.
The next challenge begins July 15. Until then, Hilton Head's players will continue the same regimen that led them into district competition -- 7:30 a.m. practices and long work in the batting cage during the weeks following the regular season.
Winning the state tournament would give Hilton Head a berth in the Dixie Boys World Series, which will be held in Beaufort starting at the end of the month.
"We're expecting some good competition," Cooper said. "We just have to go out there and play like we did here, and hopefully get what we want."
Hilton Head 8, Mount Pleasant 1
Hilton Head 000 008 0-- 8 7 0
Mount Pleasant 000 001 0 -- 1 4 1
WP: Tommy Cooper 5 IP, 4 K, 3 H, 2 BB 0 R, 0 ER
LP: Dylan Wright 2 2/3 IP 5 H, 8 R, 7 ER
Hitters: Mount Pleasant-- Thomas Murray 2 for 3, 2 2B