DeAnte Scott reluctantly admitted that the Lowcountry Heat may have been in awe playing against a Camden team Tuesday night that included guys on college scholarship and another awaiting a minor league assignment.
A day later, he saw a teammate emerge as the star of the bunch -- at least for one night.
Cameron Stoltz threw five shutout innings as part of a 4-0 victory in the second half of a doubleheader to help the Heat stave off elimination and keep their season alive in the first round of the American Legion baseball playoffs. Camden won the opening game of Wednesday's doubleheader, 10-3, and will take a 2-1 series lead into Game 4, scheduled for 7:30 tonight at Camden.
Stoltz allowed only two hits against a lineup that boasts Forrest Koumas, who less than two weeks ago picked up a College World Series ring as part of South Carolina's deep pitching staff.
"I think anytime we throw Cameron on the mound, we like our odds," Heat coach Chris Wells said. "That didn't change today. The guys rallied behind him, played great defense and won us a ballgame."
And prolonged their season at least one more day.
Despite being outscored 26-3 in the first two games of the series, the Heat played with energy in the second game of Wednesday's doubleheader. Scott scored a run in the top of the first inning to give the Heat a 1-0 lead, and they added three more in the third for a four-run cushion.
That was plenty for Stoltz, who didn't allow a hit until two outs in the fourth inning and saw a superb defensive effort behind him. Right fielder Ryan Ward made perhaps the team's defensive play of the year, a Willie Mays basket catch with his back to the infield to rob Grayson King of an extra-base hit. Left fielder Adam Orischak made a sliding catch in the sixth during Devin McGuinness' two scoreless innings of relief.
"We felt like we came out a little lethargic (Tuesday), and against a good team like this, you put yourself at a disadvantage," Scott said. "We put an emphasis on pride. We came out knowing we were better than the last two games, and we wanted to show it."
Now the Heat are faced with the difficult assignment of repeating the task -- twice. They need a win at Camden tonight to force a deciding Game 5 of the first-round series, which would continue Friday at Hilton Head High if necessary.
Camden (15-8) has used only three pitchers in the series. After getting a complete game Tuesday from Will Dorton -- a 15th-round pick last month of the Cincinnati Reds -- Scott Baldwin went the distance in the opener Wednesday for the victory and Andrew Ansley threw all seven innings in the second game in a losing effort.
Adding to the pressure, the Heat (12-11) certainly don't expect to hold down Camden's lineup too often. Dorton and Blake Outlaw had home runs in the first game Wednesday, giving Camden three for the series.
But the Heat will be playing with one advantage they didn't have a day ago -- confidence.
"A win like this, that tells us we can play and beat these kids," Scott said. "There's a lot of hype around them, and I think we let that get to us. But they're human. We're human. We can come out and beat anyone we step on the field with."
First game: Camden 10, Lowcountry 3
Camden 040 222 0 -- 10 12 2
Heat 200 000 1 -- 3 6 0
WP: Scott Baldwin 7 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 4 BB, 2 K.
LP: Matt Brown (3-1) 5 IP, 8 ER, 10 H, 4 BB, 6 K.
Hitters: Camden -- Blake Outlaw 2 for 4, HR, 3 RBIs, 2 runs, Will Dorton 1 for 3, HR, 3 RBIs, Brandon Faulkenberry 2 for 3, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Heat -- DeAnte Scott 1 for 2, run, RBI.
Second game: Lowcountry 4, Camden 0
Heat 103 000 0 -- 4 7 0
Camden 000 000 0 -- 0 4 3
WP: Cameron Stoltz (1-2) 5 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 K.
LP: Andrew Ansley 7 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 7 H, 4 BB, 2 K.
Hitters: Heat -- DeAnte Scott 2 for 3, 2 runs, RBI, Adam Orischak 2 for 3, 2B; Camden -- Grayson King 2 for 3, 2B.