CONYERS - Different players keep stepping up to make key contributions this season for the Heritage baseball team.
In each game, it seems like it's a different group of players.
In Friday's game, Joseph Lester and Brandon Thomas carried most of the offensive load for the Patriots (11-2 overall, 11-0 in Region 8-AAAA), combining for five hits and five RBIs in an 11-1 victory over Eastside in six innings at Danny Blue Field.
"It seems like a different kid every night," Heritage baseball coach Casey Teal said. "We don't have one or two kids that we've got to count on. They know that's it's one through nine (in our order) and possibly 10, 11 and 12 that can contribute and get the job done. It has been different people every single game. That is what I like about this team."
Eastside took the lead 1-0 in the top of the first on Tim Roton's RBI single as Heritage starting pitcher Nick Matteen struggled with two walks and a hit batsman.
However, the Patriots answered by scoring five runs after two outs in the bottom of the first.
Ryan Jubran's RBI double tied the game after Chunk Smith worked a two-out walk on Eastside's starter Roton. After another walk, Lester delivered the first of his three RBI singles.
Later in the inning, Ryan Cochran added an RBI single and Thomas followed with an RBI double.
After that, Heritage added single runs in the second and fourth innings and two runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
Thomas' home run to left field produced the run in the fourth.
Anthony Bazzani and Lester combined for the four RBIs in the fifth and sixth innings with three RBI singles and an RBI groundout.
Lester finished the contest 3-for-4 for the Patriots, while Smith, Cochran and Thomas each had two hits.
Defensively, the Patriots were sharp, turning double plays in the first and third innings to help Matteen escape some early trouble.
Smith, the Heritage catcher, also picked a runner off at second in the second innings, and Bazzani added a nice running, over-the-shoulder catch in right field in the fifth inning.
"We came out, I thought, kind of flat, but our defense bailed us out turning a couple double plays, which is nice," Teal said. "They (our players) know they have to play defense because we can't afford not to play defense with the makeup of our team. We have to throw strikes and play defense."
Matteen worked five inings to pick up the win for the Patriots, while Chase Ware worked a perfect inning of relief in the sixth.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.