Pats blast 7 homers to defeat Spartans

CONYERS - This time, the Heritage baseball team took no prisoners in the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.

The Patriots (23-4) smashed seven home runs and received two sparkling pitching efforts on the mound, chalking up a first-round sweep of North Springs (11-10) by scores of 8-1 and 13-1 Friday at Danny Blue Field.

At the plate, the super sophomore duo of Tyler Austin and Travis Tarleton combined for five of Heritage's seven homers, including two apiece in the second game.

On the mound, Kelvan Diaz and Anthony Bazzani produced two sparkling performances. Bazzani tossed another no-hitter in the second game, while Diaz, making his first playoff start, took a shutout into the seventh inning in the opener.

"We hit the ball well, we got decent pitching from Diaz and Bazzani and played well defensively for the most part," Heritage coach Casey Teal said. "At this time of the year, the most important thing is to do what you've been taught, do what's best for you and do what you've been working on all year.

"We saw the opening (in the second game) and went for it. We had a really successful inning where we broke it open with seven runs."

Last year, the Patriots split their opening round twin bill with Cherokee before cruising in the third and deciding game.

This time, the Spartans had no chance.

In the opener, Diaz showed the poise of a playoff veteran on the mound, limiting North Springs to just a meaningless run in the top of the seventh.

"He's come a long way. He deserved to start more than anybody on our team to start Game 1 of the first round," Teal said. "From being able to play second and third for us and doing his job on the mound, I can't say enough about the kid's performance. I'm totally pleased with it."

In the opening game, Blake Crowe, Brandon Thomas and Austin all homered for the Patriots. Thomas' blast was a two-run shot.

In the second game, Tarleton started the home run parade with a solo shot in the top of the first.

Austin followed with a three-run shot in the top of the second during a seven-run outburst for the Patriots.

Tarleton added a solo shot in the fourth and Austin added another solo blast in the fifth.

For the second straight year, Austin hit three home runs in the first round of the state playoffs. He now has 10 postseason home runs in his two-year career.

But the Patriots are more than just Austin and Tarleton.

Jonathan Lester added two RBIs in the second game on a triple and a single. Ryan Cochran, who had an RBI single in the opening game, chipped in two RBIs in the second game.

"It's somebody different all the time, and that's what I like about this lineup. It's not just one or two people," Teal said. "You can't just take one or two away. You've got the entire lineup, and it's not full of great players, but they do their job."

The Patriots will host the Alexander-Dalton winner in the second round, starting Wednesday. Dalton won the first game 12-6. The score of the second game was not available by press time.

Jeff Gillespie can be reached at jeff.gillespie@rockdalecitizen.com.