It was a “heart-stopping, edge-of-the-seat, nail-biting” game, according to coach Jason Putnam, when the Dixie Youth Bluffton AA All Star 8U baseball team eked out a win against undefeated Hilton Head 12-11 in their first meeting at the District 8 Championships June 19 at 6 p.m.
It was a double elimination tournament, and Bluffton had previously lost one game. In order to move on to the state tournament, Bluffton had to pull out another win – at 8 p.m. that same night.
In back-to-back games, the Bluffton team, whose record was 5-1 in All Star play, repeated its showing of strength and determination and beat Hilton Head again – by the exact same score, and with the same “heart-stopping, edge-of-the-seat, nail-biting” excitement.
“They were, without question, the two most exciting Little League baseball games I have ever seen,” Putnam said.
The Bluffton winners will be traveling to Florence for the state tournament July 8-12. A send-off party and cornhole tournament will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. July 6 at Okatie Ale House to help the team raise funds for travel expenses.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to accept donations as well. To help the team, visit www.GoFundMe.com and search “Bluffton All Stars.” At press time, $1,800 of a $5,000 goal had been raised.
The All Star team was formed in May, Putnam said, from among the five teams within the American division of the AA 8U Bluffton Youth Sports Recreational baseball program at Oscar Frazier Park. All of the 7 and 8 year olds have participated in travel baseball leagues in the past and are no stranger to high-level competition baseball, he said.
District 8 includes teams from Beaufort, Jasper and Colleton counties, seven of which competed in the Championship tournament.
Putnam said not only have the team members played well, but they have also learned a lot. “The other coaches and I present philosophies and lessons that the players are always focused on,” he said, “learning, and setting and achieving goals. This is what the boys have done so well this season. They have learned to identify problems, make changes, improve and come out even stronger both individually and as a team.”
“This is a very special accomplishment for the team,” Putnam said, “a fantastic time for our proud parents and families, and an exciting thing for our baseball community.”
“I am extremely proud of these boys and can’t wait to see them make their run at State,” Putnam said.