Beaufort News

Misunderstanding leads to forfeit of playoff series finale

Over the past two years, the Lowcountry Heat have become accustomed to crazy finishes to baseball games. The drama defined Post 185 in many aspects.

For the second consecutive summer, that drama has surrounded the season's finish.

A strange scenario ended the Heat's season Friday, when they chose to forfeit a deciding Game 5 to Camden, handing Camden the series clincher in the first round of the American Legion playoffs.

After the Heat won Game 4 late Thursday night to force Game 5, a misunderstanding between coaches led both teams to believe they should host Game 5, Heat coach Chris Wells said. They consulted state commissioner Elbert Long on Friday, who ruled Camden would be the host team.

"Camden is the higher seed," Long said. "That simple."

Wells said he and Camden coach Curtis Johnson communicated Thursday night during the Heat's bus ride back to Hilton Head Island, at which point he realized both teams expected to host Game 5. While he awaited Long's ruling, Wells discussed options with his players.

"The thought of making a third trip to Camden in four days wasn't something they were interested in," Wells said of his players.

"That news, combined with the fact we didn't have transportation lined up, we got to bed after 4 a.m., we're out of pitching and (our) finances are exhausted, we decided to just end the season after one crazy, wild night in Camden," Wells added.

The dispute took place as a result of a change to the series schedule earlier in the week.

The original schedule called for the teams to alternate home and away games each day for a best-of-five series. After Camden won 16-0 in Tuesday's series opener, however, Wells said he approached Johnson about playing a doubleheader at the Heat's home field Wednesday, which the two teams split, setting up the Heat's trip to Camden for Thursday night's victory.

"Honestly, when we decided to play the doubleheader, I don't think either coach anticipated the series getting to a Game 5," Wells said.

It is the second straight year a forfeit has played a role in ending the Heat's season. A year ago, after qualifying for the American Legion state tournament for the first time in program history, the Heat were forced to forfeit the tournament's opener because only 11 players were in uniform, and the rules called for a minimum of 12.

The Beaufort Ospreys also ended their 2011 season with a forfeit, when they elected not to travel to Summerville for a play-in game.