CONYERS - Senior pitcher Nick Matteen tossed a no-hitter with 12 strikeouts, helping Heritage make short work of Cedar Shoals in a 10-0 victory Friday at Danny Blue Field.
Matteen mixed his pitches well in the five-inning game, sprinkling in a wicked curveball that kept Cedar Shoals off balance at the plate. Only one Jaguar reached base - on an error in the top of the first.
"He (Matteen) did well. He got behind a few of the hitters in the bottom of their order a couple times," Heritage coach Casey Teal said. "You know we're looking for depth on the mound, so it was good to see his performance. We didn't plan on him going the whole game, but it just turned out that way.
"We've got other options (pitching). Hopefully, we'll get some people time, at least in practice, if not in games, to get them ready because we're going to need them down the stretch," Teal said. "This is definitely not a three- or four-man staff by any means."
On the base paths, Heritage (3-2 overall, 3-0 Regoin 8-AAAA) used its running game to subdue Cedar Shoals, swiping eight bases, including four in a seven-run bottom of the third.
Stolen bases played a key role as the Patriots took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Chunk Smith worked a leadoff walk, and his courtesy runner, Zane Barfield, swiped both second and third before scoring on Ryan Jubran's slow chopper to short.
In the bottom of the third, Brandon Thomas reached on an error with one out and stole second and third. Tyler Austin walked and stole second, and then Travis Tarleton followed with a two-run single to left.
Smith added an RBI double and Jubran chipped in an RBI single. The Patriots took advantage of two more Cedar Shoals errors to score the other four runs.
The game ended when Matteen picked up his second RBI of the game on fielder's choice with the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the fifth. Matteen also drove in a run on a ground ball in the third.
"The kids were really focused. It's not that we wanted to (run) any more today," Teal said. "The kids were looking for it, anticipating it and wanting it. We were reading the balls in the dirt. We did that well today. It's something we haven't done particularly well so far."
Teal said he was pleased to get Friday's game in, as Heritage swept its first three region foes by a combined score of 39-6 this week. But he knows some big tests are looming in the future, including Monday when the Patriots visit Madison County in Danielsville.
"Some people went ahead and moved their games (from today) to next week. If we get rain then, you'll really get backed up. We want to get them in as quickly as possible," Teal said. "I know this sounds like a broken record, but I'm not that happy about starting region play 3-0. I'm more concerned about playing Madison County on Monday. They're the most disciplined team in our region."
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.