The roller-coaster of an American Legion baseball season continued for the Lowcountry Heat on Thursday night, but like all amusement park rides, the home team ended right back where it started: With a loss.
Through six games of the League 1 season, the Heat have tried everything they could to scrape together their first win, but have come up short each time, no matter the method.
Some defeats have been particularly close, such as Thursday's 2-1 loss to Goose Creek at the Richard Gray Baseball Complex in Hardeeville. Others have seen them succumb to more talented, more experienced teams in blowouts. In some contests, including their previous contest against Goose Creek, they fell 10-9 in heartbreaking fashion.
This time around, it was the Heat's offense that just couldn't get going.
"We'd been swinging it real well in all our previous games," coach Mitchell Johnson said. "Tonight their pitcher just threw a great game, kept us off-balance the whole time."
The lack of runs spoiled an otherwise stellar outing by starter Caleb Workman. Workman, who pitches for Hilton Head Island High School, befuddled Goose Creek batters with his mastery of the strike zone. In a performance that took its cue from his surname, Workman painted corners and threw a baseball that seemed to dip under and dodge opponents' bats.
"With his arm slot and being a lefty, he gets that late tail," Johnson said. "His biggest issue all year has just been throwing strikes. He was in a groove, throwing strikes."
It was the kind of pitching that the Heat have been searching for throughout this transitional season, as the squad adjusts to youth and the challenges of facing savvy, veteran players on the other side. Workman's consistency helped keep the Heat in the game well into the late innings. Goose Creek pushed across a run each in the third and fourth, but Workman limited the damage with the help of some solid defense.
The glove work was another positive for Johnson, who stressed the importance of executing on defense before the game. In previous losses, Johnson felt repeated errors took away the Heat's chance to win. Though the Heat came up short again Thursday, Johnson said he was impressed with some of the improvement he saw, including an especially impressive diving stop by second baseman Shane Clark to save a run in the eighth.
"We worked really hard this weekend in practice on defense," Johnson said. "It showed. It was really encouraging to see them be composed and make those plays."
Johnson can only hope that the next step is the team's first win. The Heat's next chance will be in their final home game of the season, on Monday against Beaufort.
GC -- 001 100 000 -- 2 3 3
LH -- 000 100 000 -- 1 4 1
WP -- Tyler Rio (GC) CG, 1 R, 4 H, 10 K, 1 BB
LP -- Caleb Workman (LH) 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 6 K, 1 BB
Top Hitter: Nick Lucchesi (LH) 1-3, 2B, BB, R