Beaufort News

Exciting second half shaping up in chase for League 1 crown

Midway through the American Legion League 1 schedule, one thing is clear -- nothing has been decided this time around.

A year ago, the Lowcountry Heat won their first eight League 1 contests to take a commanding division lead heading into the second half of the season.

Through eight games this year, the Heat are 5-3, yet they still are in the mix for the top spot in the League 1 standings. Every team in the league has lost at least twice, setting up for a potential exciting second half.

The first-half drama already has been present -- seven of the Heat's eight league games have been decided by three runs or less

"The competition is high in our league; every team is good," Heat coach Chris Wells said. "We have our hands full night in and night out. We've played well halfway through our schedule. If we get big-headed and think we're the team to beat, we'll be in last place before you know it.

"It's anybody's game at this point."

As expected, the Heat's pitching staff has been dominate in league play, allowing only 13 runs over the past five games. Four different pitchers -- Matt Brown, Nic Levy, Ryan Ward and Patrick Andrews -- have picked up wins since the team's 0-2 start.

The bats, however, went cold over the past week. The Heat scored only 13 runs in their past three games, though they still won two of three.

"We shouldn't be winning games with the amount of runs we're putting up, but when you got pitchers like we do, it's a real confidence booster before the game even starts," third baseman Devin McGuinness said. "... We're a good team, but everyone in this league is a good team. The league is very competitive."

BEAUFORT TRIES TO PIECE THINGS TOGETHER

Rarely does a coach sound optimistic after a 1-5 start, but Ospreys coach Bryan Thompson has reason to believe his team is better than its record.

The Ospreys have come close in four of their five losses. They have lost two one-run games, and they've lost two additional games in which they've been tied in the ninth inning.

The team's lineup -- which includes several hot hitters during the high school season -- hasn't been able to get on track. It broke a 23-inning scoreless drought in Friday's 3-2 loss to the Heat when Mitchell Stewart hit an RBI bloop single. Kyle Dawson set up the second run with a bunt single in the ninth.

"I think we're getting there. I think it's just a matter of time before we start hitting," Thompson said. "We have good hitters. They won't stay down long."

In the meantime, the pitching staff has kept the team in ballgames. Junior Delatorre and Joel Fickes threw into the ninth inning in back-to-back outings last week.

"Great thing is pitching and defense has kept us in every game we've played except (two)," Thompson said. "As long as our staff throws strikes, we have a chance to win at the end of games, and that's all you can ask for."

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