When the line drive came hurtling toward Harrison Green with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning Wednesday, he had only one thought.
“Dude, we just won the World Series,” Green said. “I knew I was going to get to that.”
Green’s glove at shortstop, combined with Cooper George’s dominant pitching and a lineup that wore out opponents from top to bottom, fueled the Beaufort County All-Stars to an unlikely Dixie Boys World Series title – a rarity for teams who are in the field by virtue of host bids. Beaufort County claimed the championship with two wins over Mississippi on Wednesday, winning 14-4 to force the deciding game, which the hosts claimed 11-8 in eight innings.
“We definitely shocked a lot of people,” Green said.
They did it in the most stunning way possible Wednesday, winning twice against a Mississippi team that had steamrolled the competition and was on the verge of winning its second straight championship after claiming the Dixie Junior Boys World Series crown a year ago. That run included a 14-2 win over Beaufort County on Monday, after which the host team came back to win three straight games.
Mississippi jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning of the first game, but George settled in and Beaufort County got the bats going with a six-run second inning. Zack Morillo added a two-run homer in the third and capped a five-run fifth with an RBI single to invoke the 10-run rule.
Beaufort County struck first in the winner-take-all matchup, as Niko Laing hit a two-run blast in the first inning, but Zach Little’s three-run homer capped a four-run first to put Mississippi on top. Christian Londono and Oliver Holmes drove in runs for Beaufort County in the second to tie it, but Mississippi answered with two in the three for a 6-4 advantage.
That’s where it stayed until Laing singled in a run and scored on a passed ball in the sixth to tie it at 6. Mississippi’s Cam Lott answered with a two-run shot in the bottom of the inning, though, and Beaufort County was down to its last three outs.
Mississippi’s defense faltered in the top of the seventh, as Morillo scored on a throwing error and pinch-runner Cole DeMarzo scampered home on a wild pitch to score the tying run with two outs.
Daniel Keber shut down Mississippi in the seventh, and Beaufort County’s bats again came to life in the eighth, as Oliver Holmes singled home the go-ahead run before Morillo’s RBI double and a balk brought home a pair of insurance runs. Keber again slammed the door, with Green ending the game by snaring a hard line drive at short, setting off a hometown celebration.
“A bunch of these kids have been playing together since they were 6 years old, and the others we’ve been playing against,” Beaufort County coach Rex Smith said. “Even though we’ve been competing against each other for all these years, now that we’ve got them all together on one team, look what can happen.”
After all the awards were handed out, Smith insisted on having all the local fans who came out to cheer for the team – some “300 strong every night,” he said – to join in the team photo. It was a week Beaufort County baseball fans won’t soon forget – if they ever do.
“They told us at the first practice that if we won our names were going to go up on this fence, and that meant so much to me,” Green said. “Maybe bringing one of my kids here one day and showing them that dad played shortstop or something. It’s amazing.”