Dobbie Green isn't ready to admit that his Hilton Head Coastal team has things on cruise control in the Dixie Youth Baseball Hilton Head Minors Super District Tournament.
But it sure does feel that way.
Hilton Head Coastal moved to 3-0 in this week's tournament at Crossings Park with a sound 6-1 victory over Beaufort East on Thursday evening. With the win, Green's club became the last unbeaten team in the tournament for 9- and 10-year-olds. A shot at the championship game will be on the line Friday against Hampton/Varnville.
"I wouldn't say control -- they've been tough games," Green said. "There have been a couple games out here where teams have had a big lead and lost it late. We're not trying to pound our chest and say we're all that. We're staying humble."
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Green should know a thing or two about teams blowing leads late. His Hilton Head Coastal squad was on the positive side of that Monday when it erased an eight-run deficit in a thrilling 11-10 win over Hilton Head Atlantic in the opener. That win has carried over, as Hilton Head Coastal followed up with a 3-0 victory over the Bluffton Nationals before Thursday's triumph in the winner's bracket.
"It gave us a little momentum, and the kids know that we're never out it," Green said. "But they also know that the other team is never out of it."
The other team was out of it Thursday. Right-hander Daniel Keber made sure of that, as the starting pitcher threw five strong innings against a solid Beaufort East lineup before giving way to Cole Demarzo in the sixth.
Keber allowed a two-out RBI single to Rhogue Wallace in the first, but settled down after that. He stranded runners on the corners with a popup to end the fourth inning before leaving the bases loaded an inning later after fielding a soft grounder in front of home plate.
"He's tough," Green said. "He's our ace. He came in and did his job before Cole came in and shut it down in the sixth, which was nice."
Keber got all the run support he would need in the second, when Will Grey socked a two-run double and Reese Malon followed with an RBI single. Hilton Head Coastal pushed across another pair in the fourth on Henry Brill's RBI double to center field before Grey singled through the right side to up the lead to 5-1. Demarzo capped the scoring with a bases-loaded walk in the fifth.
In other action:
Hampton/Varnville 8, Bluffton Nationals 1: The home team broke out a 3-0 lead in the first inning without the benefit of a hit and cruised to an elimination game victory.
The Bluffton Nationals struggled to get much going offensively, bringing home just one run on Luke Holland's fourth-inning double. Hampton/Varnville had a 6-0 advantage by that point, as Mike Jones tallied a run-scoring single in the second before Jacob Harriott and John Kevin Rivers added RBI hits an inning later.
Hilton Head Atlantic 7, Beaufort American 2: A five-run first inning propelled Hilton Head Atlantic to its second consecutive win after a gut-wrenching defeat in Monday's tournament opener.
Three walks and an error in the opening frame doomed Beaufort American, which finally brought the early rally to a close following Guy Annunziata's two-run single.
That was enough for Hilton Head Atlantic, which rode the arms of starting pitcher Jackson Philpot and reliever Annunziata to victory. The team returns to the field Friday at 6 p.m. against Beaufort East.
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 vs. Hilton Head Atlantic, 6 p.m. (Field 3)
Game 13: Hilton Head Coastal vs. Hampton/Varnville, 8 p.m. (Field 3)
Game 14: Game 13 winner vs. Game 12 winner, 6 p.m. (Field 3)
Game 15: Game 14 winner vs. bye, 8 p.m. (Field 3)
*If after Game 13 there are three teams with one loss each, all will draw for the Game 15 bye.