Logan Phillips was looking for a way to pay his respects.
The Bluffton High School product took the field the last two nights for American Legion Post 185 with a heavy heart, his good friend John Trerotola Jr. in the back of his mind as he deals with the death of his father, John. Unable to show support in person Tuesday night at a memorial service, Phillips did the only thing he could think of -- pay proper homage with a masterful performance on the Hilton Head Island High School baseball field.
"I got some inspiration," Phillips said. "We're close friends. I've grown up with John since he came down here. I was supposed to go to the funeral (Tuesday), but I couldn't, so I came here and did the best I could for him."
He certainly did that. Phillips put on a hitting display for the Lowcountry Heat, blasting a pair of towering homers that propelled Post 185 to a 16-9 win over Conway and a 2-0 advantage in the best-of-five, first-round series.
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The first baseman has hit three round-trippers over the first two games, each blast farther than the last. He deposited a three-run shot in the second inning Tuesday over the left-field fence before launching a towering two-run shot an inning later that hit halfway up a light pole over the scoreboard. He turned on a 3-0 inside fastball for the homer that went between 380 and 400 feet, assistant coach Sam Martin estimated.
"Logan's got some bat," Martin said. "If he can be patient and stay back when he wants to hit, he can hit the baseball. He's probably got more pop than anybody on the team."
His five-RBI night fueled the Heat (14-5), who used an 11-run second inning to trounce any hopes of Conway pulling even in the series. Randy Young and Kevin Campbell each had two-run singles in the frame while Tommy Cooper and John Sheehan also had run-scoring hits.
Post 185 did all of its damage off Conway right-hander Graham Herrington, who was pulled with no outs in the second inning after allowing nine earned runs on eight hits. Post 111 (11-13) continues to struggle with its pitching staff, as ace hurlers Jordan Gore and G.K. Young left early to continue their baseball careers at the University of South Carolina and Coastal Carolina, respectively.
"Jordan was our leadoff hitter, G.K. was our three-hole hitter," coach Tim Whitaker said. "It hurts, but you lose people every day in baseball."
The Heat, meanwhile, remained in excellent shape pitchingwise after left-hander Mat Clark allowed just one earned run in six innings to go along with 11 strikeouts. Fellow southpaw Colin Grunder will look to clinch the series at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Conway as the Limestone College pitcher gets the start.
"I think (Conway) is kind of hurting for pitching," Martin said. "Hopefully we can go up there and finish them off."
Post 185 may do just that if it keeps getting results from a determined Phillips. He and his Lowcountry Heat teammates have scored 27 runs so far in the series after collecting a season-high 16 hits Tuesday night.
"Gosh, after 10 days off it's like (they're) seeing golf balls," Martin said. "They took some extra (batting practice) and once they start seeing it -- We can hit. Guys can swing the bat."
Conway 000 104 202 -- 9 8 4
Lowcountry Heat 1112 000 20X -- 16 8 4
WP: Mat Clark (2-0) 6 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K
LP: Graham Herrington 1+ IP, 8 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 3 BB, 0 K
Top hitters: Conway -- Turner Cox 3 for 5, 2B; Brandon Young 2 for 5, HR, 3B, 2 RBI; Bryce McCord 1 for 5, 2B, 2 RBI; Wilson Mishue 1 for 4, 3B, 2 RBI; Lowcountry Heat -- Tommy Cooper 2 for 4, 2 BB, 2 RBI; John Sheehan 3 for 6, RBI; Storm Grisham 2 for 3, RB, 2 RBI; Randy Young 3 for 6, 2B, 2 RBI; Logan Phillips 2 for 3, 2 HR, 2 BB, 5 RBI; Kevin Campbell 2 for 5, 2 RBI, Sean Holm 2 for 5, RBI.