The bats arrived in early season form and a scrappier than expected opponent filled the visitors dugout, but the Beaufort Ospreys managed both to open the American Legion season Thursday.
Post 9/207 held off the Lowcountry Heat to win 3-2 and start the League 1 schedule 1-0.
After the Heat tied the game at 1 in the seventh, Beaufort answered with some insurance after having been quieted much of the night by Heat starter Joe Ludwig, who was making his first start at pitcher since middle school.
"I feel like we'll do well, as long as we keep our bats going," said Beaufort catcher Andrew Jezewski, who was 2 for 3 with a double. "It seemed like we should have gotten a few more hits, but it happens first game of the season."
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Ospreys starter Thomas Smith, a former Battery Creek pitcher now at USC Salkehatchie, pitched into the ninth inning and struck out 11. The outing was Smith's longest since he threw for the Ospreys the previous summer.
He planned to pitch at Salkehatchie but was moved to infield after the team's shortstop was injured. He guessed he finished at 130 pitches.
Mattison Pike earned the save for the Ospreys after entering with two on and none out in the ninth. Post 185 executed a double steal on Pike's first pitch to have runners at second and third.
The sidearmer used a nasty changeup to get a strikeout looking, got an out at the plate off a grounder to second and handled a tapper back to the mound to end the game.
For the young Heat, who are now based out of Bluffton and will play their games at Hardeeville's Richard Gray Baseball Complex, the tight game might have provided a boost of confidence even if the result wasn't ideal.
Ludwig threw his first game from 60 feet after deciding he would like to return to pitching. The Hilton Head Island High School junior allowed only a run on David Tilton's sacrifice fly in the first but otherwise held the Ospreys down.
"I've felt real comfortable," said Ludwig, who struck out seven in six innings. "The first bullpen I threw, I felt pretty good just getting back into it. I came out today and they were like, 'Do you want to pitch?'"
Caleb Workman singled and scored for the Heat to tie the game in the seventh. Smith made a winning case to come back out for the ninth after breezing through a seven-pitch eighth inning.
When the first three Heat batters reached, his night was done.
"It seems like after I get past the first few innings, that's when I get loose," Smith said. "And I start to let it go a little bit and am more precise with my pitches."
Follow assistant sports editor Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.
Ospreys 3, Heat 2
Heat 000 000 101 -- 2 4 1
Ospreys 100 000 11x -- 3 5 2
WP: Thomas Smith 8 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 11 K, 4 H, 3 BB, HBP
LP: Trenton Dailey 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, BB
Top hitters: Heat -- Murphy Deery 2 for 3, SB; Cooper Morgan 1 for 3, SB, R; Caleb Workman 1 for 3, 2 SB, R. Ospreys -- Andrew Jezewski 2 for 3, 2B; Rome Wallace 1 for 2, R, 2 SB, 2 BB; David Tilton 0-1, 2 BB, RBI, SB, R.