CONYERS - With four games in five days, it's going to be a long spring break week for the Heritage baseball team.
So far, the Patriots are taking it in stride.
Nick Matteen pitched five solid innings and Tyler Austin had three hits and two RBIs as Heritage (15-2 overall, 15-0 in 8-AAAA) chalked up an 8-2 victory over Clarke Central on Tuesday at Danny Blue Field.
"We didn't really hit the ball that well. We had trouble getting things going offensively, but part of that was due to them not allowing us to," Heritage coach Casey Teal said. "Our starting pitching was fine. I was pleased with that."
Matteen, a senior, picked up the victory with a strong five-inning outing, allowing only one run and four hits. He struck out five and did not issue a walk.
Heritage's offense gave Matteen a quick 4-0 lead to work with on the mound after just two innings.
In the bottom of the first, Austin led off with a double and scored on Travis Tarleton's single. Tarleton plated the second run on passed ball.
The Patriots struck for two more runs in the bottom of the second. First, Brandon Thomas led off the frame with a solo home run to left field. And then, Austin drove in Ryan Cochran with an RBI double.
Matteen gave up an earned run in the top of the fourth, but Heritage answered with two more runs in the bottom of the frame.
Cochran scored again when Clarke Central couldn't handle Austin's hot smash to third. Austin scored the other run on Tarleton's second RBI single of the game.
The Patriots tacked on their final two runs in the fifth. With two outs, Cochran and Matteen singled and then scored on Austin's single, which was misplayed in left field.
In the sixth, Chase Ware replaced Matteen on the mound for Heritage. He was replaced after two batters by Frankie Merkel, who surrendered an unearned run before Anthony Bazzani came in for an inning-ending strikeout.
Austin took the hill in the seventh for Heritage and struck out the side to wrap up the victory.
Pitching depth will be key for the Patriots as they host Madison County today and Alcovy on Friday for their third and fourth games of the week.
"We're trying not to burn too many arms this week because it could be a long week, especially if we get rain again," Teal said. "Four games (this week) is going to test the depth of everybody's (pitching) staff. We got kids to come in and contribute yesterday (against Cedar Shoals) and today to allow us to finish the week strong with our pitching."
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.