CONYERS - The Heritage baseball team has been on quite a roll lately, and Thursday's game against Jackson County was no different.
The Patriots (7-2, 7-0 Region 8-AAAA) defeated the Panthers 12-2 in five innings for their seventh straight win in Region 8-AAAA play.
Thursday's contest marked the second straight game in which the Patriots defeated their opponent in a run-ruled shortened game.
Just how hot is Heritage right now?
Since losing their first two games to start the season, the Patriots have given up only nine runs over their winning streak, and just three in their last five games.
"If you look at the makeup of our team, anyone can tell that one through nine, actually it's one through 21 that makes us go," Heritage coach Casey Teal said. "We're not the most talented team in the region by any means, but we strive to do the little things right every day and today we saw a couple of different things."
Heritage starting pitcher Nick Matteen struggled in the first inning, yielding two runs to spot Jackson County an early 2-0 lead.
But Tyler Austin wasted no time getting one of the runs back in the bottom of the first inning for Heritage as he took a 2-1 pitch deep over the left-center field wall for a solo home run.
Matteen settled down in the second, retiring the side in order, and the Heritage bats did the rest.
With runners at first and third, Heritage swiped a run on a double steal, then got another one on an RBI single by Anthony Bazzani.
After Bazzani stole second, Matteen followed with a bunt single, putting runners at first and third. Both runners scored after the pitcher fielded a bunt and overthrew the first basemen. Austin followed with a sacrifice fly to center before Travis Tarelton knocked in the fifth run of the inning with a single to left, giving the Patriots a 6-2 lead.
Heritage added two more runs in the fourth inning after Austin, Tarelton and Chunk Smith strung together three straight hits with two outs.
Matteen worked into the fifth inning, giving up just the two early runs. Chase Ware came in and worked himself into, then out of, a bases-loaded jam, and the Patriots led 8-2 heading into the bottom of the inning.
The Patriots put the game away in the bottom of the fifth thanks in large part to three straight walks and two wild pitches with the bases loaded.
Ryan Jubran led off with a double then later scored on a sacrifice fly. After back-to-back singles, Ware drew a walk to load the bases. Brandon Thomas walked to drive in another run, bringing Austin to the plate. After a wild pitch plated the third run of the inning, Jackson County intentionally walked Austin to set up the double play. However, the Panthers' wildness continued and a second consecutive wild pitch handed the Patriots the deciding run.
While Heritage was down early, Teal was happy his team fought back, especially his pitchers.
"He (Matteen) started throwing strikes," Teal said. "We can't afford to be that inconsistent with our pitches, but he did a great job from the second inning on, and was challenged to do that, and he came through and pitched well for us. Chase came in and did a great job and threw strikes also."