The road gets tougher from here.
But for a night, the Hilton Head Island All-Stars enjoyed their success after a long day at Oscar J. Frazier Park in Bluffton.
The team defeated the Bluffton All-Stars twice Friday -- 10-4 and 11-9 -- to win the Dixie Youth O-Zone District 8 tournament and advance to the state tournament, which starts July 7 in Hartsville.
"They fought the whole time," Hilton Head coach Dobbie Green said.
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Hilton Head faced elimination after losing to Bluffton on Thursday. But it entered Friday with much of its pitching intact and strung together big innings when needed behind aggressive baserunning.
Hilton Head delivered the winning runs in the top of the fifth with Will Brogan driving in Cole Demarzo and Nate Deas coming around to score after drawing a walk.
"We knew that we had to beat them twice, so we just fought our hardest," Demarzo said.
The rainfall and late finish muted the trophy presentation after the three-team, double-elimination tournament. But Hilton Head is ready for the next step.
Green expects some solid district champions on the state level, with rosters full of 12-year-olds.
Bluffton had tied the game after a six-run fourth inning.
Hilton Head jumped up early in Game 1, with nine of its 10 runs coming in the first two innings. The fast start was fueled by patience at the plate. The Hilton Head All-Stars drew seven walks, two from leadoff man Richardson, who scored twice.
Richardson, who won Hilton Head's opener with Beaufort, pitched two innings of Game 1 Friday to leave him four more innings for the second game.
Richardson went 2 1/3 during the final game as Green used four pitchers to hold it together to the finish.
Hilton Head and Bluffton each defeated the Beaufort All-Stars earlier in the week to set up the showdown. The games moved from Burton Wells Park to Bluffton, where the hometown all-stars won Thursday's game 5-1.
Hilton Head pitchers responded by only allowing three hits in Game 1 Friday to force the deciding game. Their defense did not commit an error during the first victory.
"We knew we just had to win that one first," Green said.
Follow assistant sports editor Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.
Hilton Head 10, Bluffton 4
Bluffton 010 012 -- 4 3 1
Hilton Head 451 000-- 10 7 0
WP: J.J. Richardson
Top hitters: Bluffton -- Zach Murdaugh 1 for 2; Anthony Storzier 1 for 2, 2B, RBI; J.T. Rushing 1 for 2. Hilton Head -- Daniel Keber 1 for 1, RBI, 2 BB; Lucas Parrella 1 for 1, RBI, SB; Clark Heertel 1 for 1, RBI, BB.
Hilton Head 11, Bluffton 9
Hilton Head 100 820 -- 11 8 5
Bluffton 021 600-- 9 4 2
WP: Harrison Green
Top hitters: Hilton Head -- Harrison Green 2 for 2, 2 R, SB; Cole Demarzo 2 for 2, RBI, BB, 3 SB; Will Brogan 1 for 2, RBI, SB, BB. Bluffton -- Anthony Storzier 1 for 1, 2 BB, 2 R; John Sutay 1 for 2, 2 BB, 2 SB, R.