The Moncks Corner Dixie Boys all-stars completed a perfect run through the state tournament on Thursday, July 25, defeating St. George 9-1 in the championship game.
Moncks Corner was 6-0 in the tournament contested at Bluffton’s Oscar Frazier Park July 20-25.
“We didn’t want to be overconfident but we knew we had the pieces to win it,” said Steve Pauley, Moncks Corner coach. “It’s baseball and you’re still dealing with kids but they all bought in. Everybody on the team sacrificed something to help us win the tournament.”
The next stop is the Dixie Boys World Series, where Moncks Corner will face 10 other state winners and a host team for all the marbles in Dixie Boys Baseball.
They won’t have to travel far in their quest for a world series title. The 12-team world series is Aug. 3-7 at Citizens Park in Aiken, a little more than a two-hour drive from Moncks Corner.
Representing South Carolina, Moncks Corner (10-0) tangles with Alabama at 1 p.m. on Aug. 3. South Carolina plays either North Carolina or Tennessee on Aug. 4, with the loser’s bracket game at 10 a.m., and the winner’s bracket at 4 p.m.
An earlier version of the story had Moncks Corner's opener at 4 p.m., on Saturday but the time changed.
It will be a chance at some redemption for several members of the Moncks Corner team. Seven players on the 14U squad were on Moncks Corner’s Dixie Junior Boys (13U) team last summer, which advanced to that level’s world series before going 1-2.
“We feel nothing short of winning the world series should be our goal,” Pauley said. “We won our first one last year and could have won the next two.”
Before dispatching St. George in the championship game, Moncks Corner defeated Mullins (6-1), Hartsville Northern (15-6), Sumter (8-1), St. George (13-7) and Hartsville Northern (2-0).
The dominant showing was a continuation of what happened in the district tournament in late June. Moncks Corner outscored opponents 60-3 in four district games and 53-16 in six state games.
Ironically, while the final numbers were huge many of Moncks Corner best swings were rollers right in front of the plate. It wasn’t afraid to bunt anywhere in the lineup on any count.
They put pressure on defenses with a heavy dose of small ball and aggressive baserunning.
“If you look at the College World Series, that’s how teams win games,” Pauley said.
In the championship, St. George struck for its lone run in its first at-bat and Moncks Corner evened the score in the bottom of the inning when Dylan Lambert singled with one out, stole second base and came home on a balk.
Moncks Corner took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third. JP Proctor reached base on a single and eventually scored on a passed ball.
It made the score 4-1 with two more in the bottom of the fourth. AJ Legette knocked in Hampton Weathers with a RBI single and scored on a squeeze bunt off the bat of Ryan Pierce.
Moncks Corner all but put it away in the bottom of the fifth with a five spot. Miller McGuire’s RBI single and Hagen Gregory’s two-run single made it 7-1. Two other runs scored on wild pitches for the final margin of victory.
Crooked numbers were the norm for Pauley’s team. They put up nine runs in the bottom of the sixth of the first Hartsville Northern game to break a 6-6 tie.
They put up a nine spot in the first St. George game too, overcoming a 5-1 deficit.
“That goes back to practice,” Pauley said. “We do scenarios like that in practice. They know it’s a seven-inning game. With our bats, we always feel like we’re in it.”
Lambert was the winning pitcher for Moncks Corner and also led at the plate with a 3-for-3 effort. He took over in the top of the second inning and threw six shutout innings, scattering five hits and striking out five.
More team members are Mason Salisbury, Jackson Blackburn, Gavin Driggers, Ben Cohen and Keith Stevens.
Pauley is assisted by Butch Watson, Pete Myers and Chad Salisbury.
Game 1 – Mississippi vs. Georgia, 10 a.m.
Game 2 – Louisiana vs. Virginia, 10 a.m.
Game 3 – Tennessee vs. North Carolina, 1 p.m.
Game 4 – South Carolina vs. Alabama, 1 p.m.
Game 5 – Florida vs. Texas, 4 p.m.
Game 6 – Arkansas vs. Aiken, S.C., 4 p.m.