Beaufort News

Goose Creek pins opening-night loss on Heat

Lowcountry Heat's Cameron Stoltz scrambles back to first as the ball gets by Goose Creek first baseman Cody Smith during a pickoff attempt in the second inning of Monday's season opener. Stoltz ended up taking second on the play.
Lowcountry Heat's Cameron Stoltz scrambles back to first as the ball gets by Goose Creek first baseman Cody Smith during a pickoff attempt in the second inning of Monday's season opener. Stoltz ended up taking second on the play. Jay Karr/The Island Packet

Zack Wimmer walked to the plate ready to swing his bat and be the hero.

Once he got there, he chose a more patient route.

Wimmer drew a bases-loaded walk in the top of the ninth inning, the go-ahead run in Goose Creek's 7-4 win against the Lowcountry Heat to open the American Legion baseball season at Hilton Head High's baseball field.

"Everybody wants to drive in the run with a hit; we all do," Wimmer said. "I didn't get what I wanted to hit, though, so I took it. And it worked out for us."

Cody Smith gave Goose Creek three insurance runs with a bases-clearing double to follow Wimmer's two-out walk -- insurance it turned out his team needed after it gave up a run in the bottom half of the ninth for the 7-4 final.

Wimmer had a three-hit night, and he was just as successful on the mound to open the summer season. Cane Bay's junior, who has already committed to The Citadel, fired six innings of one-run baseball, striking out seven in the no-decision.

Heat ace Patrick Andrews, who is attending Clemson in the fall, had a nearly identical performance. He also allowed just one run while striking out seven over six innings.

"We were matching each other pitch for pitch," Wimmer said. "It was a fun game."

Wimmer left with the lead, but the Heat gave flashbacks to last season by erasing it with a two-run seventh inning to take a 3-2 lead, its first of the game. Cameron Stoltz and DeAnte Scott both singled and scored in the inning, with Scott scoring the go-ahead run from first on a groundout.

But Heat reliever Ryan Ward couldn't hold it. He gave up one run in the eighth before Goose Creek touched him for four more in the ninth to hand him the loss.

Ward finished 8-1 as the Heat's ace during their record-setting 23-6 campaign last summer, which included a League 1 championship.

"It was set up for us to win in the ninth," Heat coach Chris Wells said. "We just needed to score one and hold them in the top half of the ninth. It was a good plan because we got one in the ninth, but we didn't get it done in the field."

Neither team played its best in the field. The two squads combined for eight errors in the nine-inning contest.

The Heat did, however, cut down a pair of runs at the plate. Ward kept the game scoreless in the fifth inning when he gunned out Colton Rolader from center field. The Heat also threw out Tyler Rio on a relay in the eighth to preserve a 3-3 tie.

Rio got the win on the mound for Goose Creek with three innings of relief.

The Heat will be back in action tonight when they travel to Summerville at 7 p.m., part of a three-game opening week.

"The good news for us is we get to bounce back and play (today)," Wells said. "So we'll just put this in the rearview mirror real (quickly). It's a long season. We're just fine."

Goose Creek 7, Heat 4

Goose Creek 000 001 114 -- 7 12 5

Heat 000 001 201 -- 4 6 3

WP: Tyler Rio (1-0) 3 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 K.

LP: Ryan Ward (0-1) 3 IP, 6 R, 5 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP.

Hitters: Goose Creek -- Zack Wimmer 3 for 4, 2B, BB, 2 R, RBI, Ryan Maksim 3 for 5, 2B, Zack Lavery 2 for 4, 2B, 2 R; Heat -- Cameron Stoltz 2 for 4, R, Charlie Wilkins 2 for 4, 2B, R.

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