Ryan Ward assumes most pitchers use his strategy to work their way out of jams -- throw strikes, keep the ball down and dig deep.
Few, however, actually enjoy them like he does. And certainly even fewer get out of them with such regular success.
The Lowcountry Heat pitcher finished off Tuesday night's game the same way he started it -- escaping a threat to preserve a lead, and in turn, a victory.
Ward stranded two Beaufort Ospreys runners in the bottom of the ninth inning to help the Heat hold on to a 2-1 victory in League 1 play.
"I live for that spot," Ward said. "I love that spot."
He entered the game in a similar one. Ward took over for starter Patrick Andrews in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and only one out as the Heat were clinging to a 1-0 lead.
It took him one hitter to escape it. Heat catcher Brandon Johnson chased down an off-target pitch and flipped it to Ward to peg out Mark Jones at the plate. Ward followed by striking out McCauley Smith to end the threat.
After a pair of scoreless frames, Ward allowed the first two hitters to reach base against him in the ninth when Kyle Dawson and Ryan Day delivered back-to-back singles. Luke Smith provided an RBI single three hitters later, but Ward retired Mitchell Stewart on a popup to end the game.
The Heat's lefty allowed three hits in 3 1-3 innings and struck out six in relief of Andrews, who picked up his first win of the young season with 5 2-3 scoreless innings.
"Ryan Ward is a gutty kid who wants the pressure -- he thrives on it," Heat coach Chris Wells said. "If we put him out there in a 6-0 game, I think he'd be bored out of his mind."
There were no boring spots Tuesday night.
Andrews traded zeroes with Beaufort starter Junior Delatorre for the first four innings, and Delatorre carried a no-hitter into the fifth before Devin McGuinness led off the inning with a single. He later scored the game's first run.
"It's a tough one to swallow," Delatorre said. "It was one of those storybook pitching matchups where we're both just going at it. It's tough that one of us had to lose."
The Heat used small ball to extend their winning streak to three games after an 0-2 start to the year.
They had only one hit through the first seven innings but never trailed in the game. Charlie Wilkins added an insurance run in the eighth on a squeeze play to score Ward.
"That was small ball at its finest," Wells said. "We executed the few opportunities we had tonight and got a tough win against a good ballclub."
Lowcountry Heat 2, Beaufort Ospreys 1
Heat 000 010 010 -- 2 4 0
Ospreys 000 000 001 -- 1 5 0
WP: Patrick Andrews (1-0) 5 2-3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 7 BB, 4 K.
LP: Junior Delatorre 7 1-3 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K.
Hitters: Heat -- Devin McGuinness 1 for 4, R; Ospreys -- Kyle Dawson 2 for 4, R.
JUNIOR HEAT SHUT OUT GOOSE CREEK BLACK, 10-0
The Lowcountry Heat junior American Legion baseball team improved to 2-1 with a 10-0 win over Goose Creek Black on Tuesday. Michael Perez earned the win, throwing five hitless innings and striking out four. Reese Dolyniuk led the offense, going 2 for 2 with three RBIs. John Sheehan was 2 for 5 with two RBIs and Greg Warren went 2 for 4 with an RBI for the junior Heat, who play in a tournament at Cane Bay on Saturday.