Caleb Martin didn't complain about the early finish Tuesday.
Quick on the heels of the high school baseball season, American Legion baseball and its nine-inning format, road trips and schedule loaded with many of the same teams night after night, can become a grind. So the Lowcountry Heat could appreciate traveling to Beaufort on Tuesday and closing out a 16-6, run rule-shortened victory after seven innings.
"It feels like it's a 23-inning game," Martin said. "But you get a lot of at-bats, so it's a little better."
Martin didn't get out, with three base hits and twice reaching safely on errors. The Heat, after losing to Goose Creek on Monday to open the season, used only two pitchers Tuesday to protect a thin staff.
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Mat Clark pitched three innings to earn the victory. Former Bluffton High School pitcher Colin Grunder, now at Limestone, got an extended look after not having thrown live in several weeks.
Heat coach Chris Seelbach was pleased with the left-hander's outing. Grunder struggled with his control at times, but struck out four. And when he needed outs, Grunder worked quickly to escape jams.
"His ball runs and moves all over the place," Seelbach said. "Sometimes when guys have that much movement on their ball, it's hard for them to command it, especially when he hasn't been pitching a lot. I think as he goes on, he gets a feel for what he's doing, I think he'll be better."
Grunder allowed the Ospreys only a run during each of the final three innings after Beaufort loaded the bases in each frame.
The Ospreys' opener didn't go as coach Mike Smith hoped. He wanted his pitchers to limit the walks and force the ball in play, which they did. But miscues in the field extended innings for the Heat, who piled on with a six-run sixth.
"They took control of the game," Smith said. "And we were unable to respond."
Smith liked the effort from starter Shane Dixon, a former Battery Creek standout now at Florence-Darlington Tech. Dixon lasted five innings, during which three of the six runs were unearned.
Martin said the Heat were glad to see a harder thrower on the mound after struggling to solve Goose Creek pitchers Monday.
"Last night we thought we saw the best pitching we were going to see all season," Martin said. "We came out tonight just seeing it better, and taking advantage of their mistakes the way (Goose Creek) took advantage of our mistakes last night."
Beaufort trailed only 4-3 after three innings Monday, and Dixon didn't allow a baserunner the following inning. The Heat benefited from some easy runs after that.
The teams face each other three more times this summer.
"We've got a little bit to build on here," Smith said. "I know our defense is better than what we played tonight."
Heat 013 036 3 -- 16 13 1
Ospreys 003 011 1 -- 6 8 5
W: Mat Clark (1-0) 3 IP 3 R, 3 ER, 5 H, 2 K, BB
L: Shane Dixon (0-1) 5 IP, 6 R, 3 ER, 6 H, BB, 4 K
Top hitters: Heat -- Caleb Martin 3 for 3, 4 R, RBI; Randy Young 3 for 5, 2B, 3 RBIs. Ospreys -- Alex Silon 3 for 5, RBI.