GRIFFIN - After forcing a third game with a 5-2 win in Game 2 of the series, the Patriots could not continue what they started, losing the deciding game 8-0 and being eliminated from the Class AAAA playoffs Wednesday by Griffin at The Bears' Den.
"We got beat in the three-game series and they outplayed us," Heritage head coach Casey Teal said. "They did an excellent job, and my hat's off to them."
Heritage (26-6) had the bats swinging with home runs by Tyler Austin and Anthony Bazzani. Unfortunately it wasn't enough to send Heritage to the final four.
Leading the Patriots in the two games Wednesday were Ryan Jubran and Austin with two hits each.
In the first game, Austin not only set the pace early on with a leadoff homer to give Heritage a 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning, he also quieted the Griffin fans.
"It set the momentum at the time but obviously it wasn't enough. But we're not about one player or one person, we win as a team and lose as a team," Teal said.
Heritage made it 2-0 on Jubran's double. Jubran extended the Patriots' lead after he took advantage of a Bears error.
Griffin (26-4) closed the gap with a Telvin Nash blast out of the park and a Jacoby Beckham RBI single in the top of the fourth.
Diaz got out of trouble, striking out Cash Barnhart for the final out.
"He's been strong for us late in the year. He earned a spot in the rotation and he got in there and pitched one heck of a game." Teal said.
On the second pitch in the bottom of the fourth, Bazzani drove it over the fence to give Heritage a two-run, 4-2, lead.
Pinch-runner Joseph Lester made it 5-3 on a Travis Tarleton sacrifice fly.
After a scare on the mound in the fourth, Diaz settled down to finish the final three innings, allowing one hit and no runs.
"I can't say enough about his efforts and what he did. He got us to that Game 3, and that's all you could ask for," Teal said.
Diaz finished the first game fanning six batters while giving up six hits and no walks.
In the second game, Heritage pitcher Brandon Thomas gave up several hits, but the defense did its job keeping the runners from scoring.
However, Thomas could not hold them off, giving up a run in the top of the third inning.
Griffin jumped on Thomas, who allowed Nash to crush an RBI single to plate Tim Beckham, which ended Thomas' night on the mound.
Heritage almost tied the game in the bottom of the fourth, but Teague Jester used his speed to track down three fly balls, leaving two runners on base.
The Bears extended their lead to 2-0 in the fifth when Tim Beckham hit a solo shot with one out. Xavier Randolph made it 3-0 before Heritage got out of the inning.
Griffin finished the game scoring five runs in the sixth inning.
"I'm proud of the seniors. They're probably the winningest group of seniors that has ever come through here. They know how to win and how to play baseball," Teal said. "That's why they went to a final right and three final four's in their career."
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.