The Bluffton American All-Stars suffered their first loss of the postseason Thursday morning before bouncing back to win the rematch and claim the 2021 Dixie Youth Baseball Minors (10U) state championship at Timken Sports Complex in Union.
Moncks Corner stunned the undefeated Bluffton squad with a 13-2 run-rule win Thursday morning, but the Lowco side rebounded with a 7-5 victory in the deciding matchup to clinch the state title and a trip to the Dixie Youth Baseball World Series next month in Laurel, Mississippi. The Bluffton team also won the Sportsmanship Award in a rare sweep of the tournament hardware.
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After Bluffton handed Moncks Corner its first loss of the tournament in an 8-7 thriller Tuesday night, the seemingly inevitable rematch came in Thursday’s championship round with Bluffton needing just one win in two games to clinch the title. Moncks Corner came out swinging, though, answering Bluffton’s two-run first with an eight-run frame to take control and ending it early with a five-run rally in the third.
Bluffton wasted no time taking charge in the rubber match, though, plating six runs in the first inning and hanging on for a 7-5 victory to claim the hardware and advance. Henry Numssen set the tone with nine strikeouts over 3 1/3 innings on one-hit ball, and Nic Farrugia held the lead with 1 2/3 innings of solid relief before Austin Broene came on in a tough spot in the sixth to strike out the side and seal the victory.
After Numssen struck out the side on 12 pitches to open the game, the first five batters in the Bluffton lineup reached base, including doubles from Nicholas Carpenter and Nic Farrugia and a triple from Numssen, to break it open early. Moncks Corner clawed back into it with three runs in the fourth, but Farrugia held the line and Bluffton tacked on an insurance run in the fifth.
A pair of singles and an error to start the sixth pulled Moncks Corner within three and brought the tying run to the plate, but Broene came on to strike out the side — all looking — and set off the celebration.
Bluffton benefited from a balanced attack in the deciding game, as seven different players recorded hits. Finn Boyles, Nicholas Carpenter, Farrugia, Numssen, and Zack Szypczak each had a hit and an RBI in the clincher.
Bluffton’s All-Stars will represent South Carolina in the Dixie Youth Baseball World Series from Aug. 7-12 in Laurel, Mississippi. The team has started a fundraiser through GoFundMe to help families offset the travel costs associated with the World Series trip.