Beaufort East coach Brett Westerfield gets an ice cold shower from his team Sunday night after they won the Dixie Youth Minors Super District championship at Crossings Park on Hilton Head Island.
Sarah Welliver Staff Photo
The fresh new mohawk, bright green hair and ice cold shower were all worth it for Brett Westerfield.
For three years, the Beaufort East coach watched his team take its lumps from opponents south of the Broad, starting in machine pitch and continuing with the Riptide travel team. But it was all building toward something bigger, Westerfield kept patiently reminding his kids.
That something showed up Sunday, when Westerfield's club took a pair of games from Hilton Head Coastal to win the Dixie Youth Baseball Hilton Head Minors Super District Tournament.
"It's been a long time coming, it really has," he said. "We've been working toward this for three years now, to be honest. We were doing machine pitch, we battled with Hilton Head and Bluffton every time and we would always lose. Then we went on to start a travel team, so we started the Beaufort Riptide, nine of these kids over here played on that team.
" ... It's helped them work together as a team, instead of having to teach everybody everything I want to see every time. It's helped us, and it's taken us three years, but it's payed off."
It started with a come-from-behind, 5-4 walk-off victory in the opener and ended with a 5-0 shutout to take home the trophy at Crossings Park on Hilton Head Island and the right to advance to the state tournament that begins July 20 in North Charleston.
In typical celebratory fashion, Westerfield was douced with an ice bucket that almost proved too difficult for his 9- and 10-year-old players to lift. What followed was a buzz cut and green dye provided by parents, a rallying cry his assistants donned earlier in the week.
Left fielder Jermiah Simmons provided all the heroics Beaufort East would need, delivering a scorching single to left in the bottom of the sixth of game one that helped erase what had been a 4-2 deficit. After trailing 2-0 early, Hilton Head Coastal rallied back with a four-spot in the fourth only to give it up in the fifth on an RBI groundout and an errant throw to third that allowed Sean Moran to score.
That set the stage for Simmons, who had little to say of his big hit other than to note it wasn't the first of his young career. But his coach had more descriptive phrases in mind to describe his clutch hitter.
"J-Mo will not speak much, but let me tell you, he is an awesome ball player," Westerfield said. "He flat out hits the baseball. You see that every time. He doesn't strike out, he stings it and he's going to hit it somewhere."
The hit did more than push Beaufort East's season to a winner-take-all showdown in the nightcap. Westerfield's team took control of game two early and rode the arm of reliever Joshua denton to a convincing 5-0 win in the championship game.
It squashed Hilton Head Coastal's convincing start to the tournament, as coach Dobbie Green's team cruised into the finals with a convincing 4-0 record.
"You just tip your hat to Beaufort East," Green said. "I knew they had a good team and they came out and outplayed us today.
"They had momentum (after the walk-off), our guys had their heads down and we played that way. But Beaufort East outplayed us today, they deserved to win."
Dixie Youth Baseball Hilton Head Minors Super District Tournament
At Crossings Park, Hilton Head Island
Game 1: Beaufort East 19, Hampton/Varnville 6
Game 2: Beaufort American 9, Walterboro 5
Game 3: Bluffton Nationals 14, Bluffton American 2, 4 innings
Game 4: Hilton Head Coastal 11, Hilton Head Atlantic 10
Game 5: Hampton/Varnville 16, Walterboro 15, Walterboro is eliminated
Game 6: Hilton Head Atlantic 14, Bluffton American 4, Bluffton American eliminated
Game 7: Beaufort East 4, Beaufort American 1
Game 8: Hilton Head Coastal 3, Bluffton Nationals 0
All games postponed
Game 9: Hampton/Varnville 8, Bluffton Nationals 1, Bluffton Nationals eliminated
Game 10: Hilton Head Atlantic 7, Beaufort American 2, Beaufort American eliminated
Game 11: Hilton Head Coastal 6, Beaufort East 1
Game 12: Beaufort East 12, Hilton Head Atlantic 6, Hilton Head Atlantic eliminated
Game 13: Hilton Head Coastal 10, Hampton/Varnville 0, 4 innings, Hampton/Varnville eliminated
Game 14: Beaufort East vs. Hilton Head Coastal, ppd., rain
Game 14: Beaufort East 5, Hilton Head Coastal 4
Game 15: Beaufort East 5, Hilton Head Coastal 0, Hilton Head Coastal eliminated