Even the most optimistic of coaches would have a difficult time searching for the positives from Monday night's American Legion game. But it counts just the same in the win column -- lucky break for the Lowcountry Heat.
The Heat used a three-run eighth inning to erase a Summerville lead and walk away with a 7-5 victory at Hilton Head High's baseball field Monday night.
The two teams combined for more errors (11) than hits (10), leading to eight unearned runs.
"That definitely wasn't pretty," Heat coach Chris Wells said." That was not good baseball for us. We didn't execute well. ... But our guys answered the bell in the eighth and it was just what we needed to stay on track."
And now they appear to be firmly on last year's track, when the Heat ran away with the League 1 championship. The Heat have won four straight League 1 contests, all against different opponents.
They nearly squandered Monday's win. The Heat cruised to a 4-0 lead after four no-hit innings from starter Sean Bartlett, but the defense collapsed behind him, committing five errors that led to three unearned runs.
Summerville capitalized on the Heat's fifth error, a dropped popup in foul territory, when Cory Haviland launched a go-ahead two-run homer off reliever Patrick Andrews in the top half of the eighth -- the game's lone extra-base hit.
The deficit suddenly ignited the Heat (7-3, 4-2), who bounced back to push across three runs on three errors in the bottom half of the eighth. Cameron Stoltz threw a scoreless ninth for the save, preserving a win for Andrews (2-0).
The Heat's trio of pitchers allowed only five hits in nine innings, but three Summerville batters reached base on strikeouts, four were plunked and five reached on errors.
"We have such great pitching that when we get a three- or four-run lead, we feel that's enough to win," shortstop DeAnte Scott said. "We tend to get too relaxed."
Summerville returned the favor. It used four pitchers, who held the Heat to five hits, but it also beaned four hitters and committed six errors that led to five unearned runs. All three Heat runs in the eighth were unearned, as Summerville failed to field back-to-back sacrifice bunts, allowing pinch-hitter John Sheehan and Charlie Wilkins to score the game-tying and go-ahead runs.
And it allowed the Heat to escape with a win.
"We need to stay more consistent throughout the whole game to beat teams," Scott said. "... If we do that, we're the best team in this league."
Lowcountry Heat 7, Summerville 5
Summerville 000 020 120 -- 5 5 6
Heat 120 100 03X -- 7 5 5
WP: Patrick Andrews (2-0) 1 2-3 IP, 2 R, 0 ER, 3 H, 1 K
LP: Matt Chapman 1 IP, 3 R, 0 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K.
Hitters: Summerville -- Cory Haviand 1 for 4, HR, 2 RBIs, R; Heat -- Charlie Wilkins 1 for 2, 2 BB, RBI, 2 runs.