Mike Little talked in the parking lot after the Dixie Boys District 1 baseball tournament about the challenge his Summerville team encountered with the Hilton Head All-Stars.
Hilton Head is made up of sound baseball players who are physically imposing, Little said. And to back up his point, he pointed to a car pulling away, a Hilton Head player at the wheel.
The southern Beaufort County squad was in the driver's seat throughout the week at Burton Wells Park. It capped its unbeaten run to the District 1 title with a 12-1 victory over Summerville on Monday in the championship game.
"They had to go seven innings to do it, that's one thing I can say," Little said. "They are just a fine, quality team."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Island Packet
Hilton Head will next travel to the Dixie Boys state tournament, which begins July 19 in North Augusta. The team will try to make its second consecutive trip to the World Series after winning the state tournament last year as 13-year-olds.
Summerville had given Hilton Head its closest fight last week, a 5-3 Hilton Head victory on July 2. And Little wanted to keep it close again by using the same pitcher, David Thorpe.
But Hilton Head was too strong. It scored three runs in the first and held down the Summerville bats with five strong innings from Koty Brigham, who allowed only two hits.
Hilton Head shortstop Michael Graupner was 4 for 5 and drove in a pair of runs. Boyce Kobleur had a pair of hits and scored three runs to help lead Hilton Head, which scored 83 runs in five games.
Graupner said the team knew Thorpe kept the ball down and on the outside of the plate.
"We worked yesterday on hitting it to right field, and it paid off today," Graupner said.
The district champions expect a return trip to the World Series and hope for the ultimate result after a rocky start last year.
Hilton Head coach Bill Keen said his team might have been too high entering the World Series a year ago. It ran into a solid pitcher in the opening game and had to fight from the lower bracket after that.
Keen thinks a little momentum and a favorable seed could help Hilton Head through the second time. He said his team will work throughout and not overlook the state level.
"We've just got to focus," Graupner said. "We can't get our hopes too high."
Keen's squad did not commit an error Monday. On top of clean play in the infield, John Burke made a tricky sliding catch in right field.
They were the sort of plays that Little and his team -- representing Parks Field in Summerville -- might have expected from sizing up Hilton Head at the beginning of the tournament.
"I'd like to see the team that can beat them," Little said. "They're tough."
Follow assistant sports editor Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.