CONYERS - Monday's baseball game between Heritage and Salem was all about the pitching.
Each team sent its top pitchers against each other in a highly-touted matchup between two top-five ranked teams.
Offensively, the result was a combined three hits and four runs.
Salem tossed pitchers Jake Dyer and Brandon Crumbley against the Patriots and the duo combined for a three-hitter.
However, the Patriots were just a little bit better as Anthony Bazzani, Scott Korczyk and Tyler Austin combined for a no-hitter and Heritage prevailed 4-0.
It was the Patriots' second straight combined no-hitter. Austin, Chase Ware, Korczyk and Bazzani combined in a no-hit shutout on Friday in Dacula.
"I've never had back-to-back combined no-hitters," Heritage coach Casey Teal said. "People don't see this, but it's tough as a head coach to pull Bazzani while he's got a no-hitter going. I still think this will be something he remembers in 40 years. Right now, I'm planning for better things at the end of the season. Korcyk also deserves this as much as anyone. He got to pitch in a tight game against a top region team. He came in and did the job."
Austin came in and closed the door in the seventh, striking out two of the three batters he faced.
Offensively, the Patriots scored two runs in the bottom of the second inning off two singles and two wild pitches. Joseph Lester and Anthony Bazzani each smacked singles and Brandon Thomas walked to load the bases.
Lester and courtesy runner Zane Barefield eventually scored on wild pitches thrown by Dyer.
Heritage went up 3-0 in the third off a sacrifice fly RBI by Chunk Smith. The run was set up by a Salem fielding error on an Austin grounder. Austin took second on the error and moved to third on a groundout by Travis Tarleton.
The last and only earned run of the game came off Crumbley in the bottom of the sixth off an RBI single by Bazzani, which scored Ryan Jubran.
That was all the offense Heritage needed on a night when goose eggs dominated the scoreboard.
"Our defense played well. They made routine plays and we made a couple of tough plays, too. Our defense was just solid," Teal said. "I can't say enough about our outfielders getting jumps on the ball. There were a couple of times we thought the ball might fall in, but they didn't let that happen. Chunk (Smith) did a good job behind the plate. Overall as a team, we did what we had to do to get out of that jam in the first inning. That was huge, leaving the runners out there."
Salem loaded the bases in the top of the first inning but was unable to score a run. It ended up being the Seminoles' best chance to score.
Teal also gave credit to Dyer and his role in the pitching duel.
"I can't say enough about Dyer's performance. He pitched his tail off," Teal said. "He deserved to get the win. They played hard and they battled. I'm just glad that our kids dug down deep enough to make something happen."
The win moves Heritage to 9-2 overall and 9-0 in Region 8-AAAA.
Salem is now also 9-2 overall and 7-2 in the region.
Salem coach Chris Davis said the loss was the result of missed opportunities.
"Their pitching was better than our hitting today," he said. "We could have used a few key hits, but they did a really good job of getting out of jams and my hat goes off to them. They did a great job."
Brandon Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.