CONYERS - Prep baseball heavyweights collided Monday at Danny Blue Field as Heritage and Marist faced off in each team's 2008 season opener.
As expected, the game was tightly contested, but it was Marist that earned the win, edging Heritage 3-2.
The Patriots went up 1-0 in their first at-bat and increased their lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the second.
However, the War Eagles scored single runs in the third, fifth and sixth innings to capture the victory in a marquee matchup.
"They (Marist) are definitely a final four team. They might be a final two team," Heritage coach Casey Teal said. "They're solid from top to bottom and they have some pitchers that we haven't seen before. I think they're going to be there in the end."
Still, the Patriots went toe-to-toe with the War Eagles in a game that was decided by just one run.
"I told the kids that this won't be the last one-run game that we'll be in," Teal said. "Against a team like Marist, we can't afford to not do the little things right. We've got to be fundamentally sound. We played a lot of kids today and a lot of them are going to have to grow up a lot quicker than what they normally would have to."
The Patriots went up 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning off a sacrifice bunt by Brock Holley that scored Tyler Austin.
In the bottom of the second, Austin smacked an RBI single and plated Matt Whitenton to make it 2-0.
Marist first got on the board in the top of the third after an RBI single by Patrick Miller scored Patrick Sullivan.
Heritage surrendered a bases-loaded walk in the top of the fifth, which tied the game at 2-2.
The War Eagles finally took the lead in the top of the sixth off two singles and a Heritage throwing error.
Heritage went quietly in its last two at-bats.
The Patriots will hit the field again Saturday at Greenbrier in a rematch of last year's Class AAAA championship series.
Teal said his team has a lot it needs to improve on if they are going to be ready for the defending state champions.
"We've got to improve on every aspect of the game. We've got to be sound and strive to work hard in practice so that we are sound in every aspect of the game," Teal said. "We've got to continue to work on being fundamentally sound and just do a better job next time."
Brandon Evans can be reached at brandon.evans@ rockdalecitizen.com.