COVINGTON - Sometimes you have to believe in yourself even when the odds are stacked against you.
That's a lesson lived by the Heritage Patriots baseball team, which came from a 7-1 deficit after the fourth inning to beat Region 8-AAAA front runner Madison County 11-7 on a cold Monday evening.
"They did not give up, they never thought that they were going to lose the game," Heritage coach Casey Teal said. "It was our kids believing in themselves and knowing that just like life, things aren't always going to go our way. It's what you make of the situation. That's what we did when we were down 7-1.
"It wasn't anything we said. It was our kids playing baseball the way they know it's played here at Heritage. For the first time this year, we played it like it was supposed to be played."
Sparking the Patriots in their massive comeback were Chase Ware on the mound and Tyler Austin at the plate.
Up to the point when Ware took over pitching duties in the fourth inning with a runner on second, the Raiders had scored six runs on six hits and were walked twice while the defense committed three errors.
Even after Madison County scored in the fourth on a sacrifice fly to and Heritage failed to score, the team still thought it could win.
"They did whatever they had to do to find a way to win," Teal said.
It all started in the top of the fifth inning when
Heritage short stop Nick Woodward snagged three hits to retire all three Madison County batters in order for the first time in the game.
After Joseph Lester walked to first base, Austin hit a two-run homer to make it 7-3 before Anthony Bazzani brought Travis Tarleton and Ryan Cochran home on a long single to make it 7-5.
"When you're down and losing by two runs and you have a kid that wants to call time to come over to you on third base to tell you that this is our game, that's what it's all about," Teal said of Ware.
Heritage kept Madison County from scoring again in the sixth inning, keeping the game within reach.
The Patriots took an 8-7 lead on the first pitch by the Raiders' Matthew Robinson when Austin crushed a three-run blast.
"That was a spark, (Austin) had a very, very good night," Teal said. "But it wasn't Tyler that did it, not taking anything away from him, but he will tell you it was every single person on our team that did. They all said we weren't going to lose."
Brandon Thomas followed with a two-run single to give the Patriots an 11-7 lead before Ware shut down the final three batters for the win.
"It's not easy playing for me. It's not easy playing for me at all," Teal said. "But I can tell you that when they leave here they're going to be better because of it. I'm not saying it about myself, I'm saying it about our program, they're going to be better kids in the long run."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.