CONYERS - County rivals clashed on the baseball diamond Wednesday at Rockdale, but it was Heritage that topped Rockdale 9-0 in the regular season finale for both teams.
Heritage has already clinched the Region 8-AAAA title and a No. 1 seed in the upcoming state playoffs. The Patriots will play North Springs next Friday in the first round.
For the second straight game, Heritage's Tyler Austin started the show with a home run and put the Patriots up 1-0.
After Brandon Thomas doubled and Travis Tarleton singled, a sacrifice bunt RBI by Chunk Smith and an RBI double Ryan Jubran brought them home and Heritage was quickly ahead 3-0.
Rockdale aided the Heritage cause in the top of the fourth by spotting the Patriots three more runs in the top of the fourth - all unearned on three Rockdale errors.
In the top of the sixth, Tarleton's RBI single made it a 7-0 game. Heritage's last two runs came in the top of the seventh off a two-run double by Thomas.
"We played differently today than we have the last three or four games. I don't remember how long it's been since we scored nine runs," Heritage coach Casey Teal said. "We've got smart kids playing for us and I'm proud of them. They bought into the system a long time ago and we have a lot of different options with this lineup. We may not have hitters with home run power one through nine, but we have a lot of options with various kids and I like that."
But it wasn't just the Pats' bats that won the game Wednesday.
Kelvan Diaz was strong on the mound, pitching six scoreless innings. Diaz scattered three hits, walked three batters and struck out nine.
"This was an awesome example of someone who has continued to push himself and tried to get better," Teal said. "He did an excellent job today and I can't say enough about his pitching performance."
Meanwhile, Rockdale coach Casey Martin was disappointed to see the season end on a sour note.
"We didn't hit very well. They pitched well and pitched around us pretty well," he said. "We hit the ball hard at times, but they just played solid defense. That's baseball. The team that makes the least amount of errors in high school baseball is going to win."
Rockdale finished the game with five errors.
Brandon Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.