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Heritage in position to take region crown
Patriots one game behind Madison County; Salem, Rockdale also eye playoff berths

COVINGTON - Heritage baseball finds itself in a position to win the Region 8-AAAA title with Salem and Rockdale still in contention to make it to the playoffs.

"There are four or five teams that have a chance (to win region). It's just competitive," Heritage coach Casey Teal said. "It's probably the most competitive region I've ever been in as far as the quality of teams in the top six or so. There are a lot of teams that still have a shot at it."

After Heritage's (9-2 in region play) 11-7 comeback win Monday, the Patriots are game behind front runner Madison County (10-1).

Madison County won the first meeting 5-3.

Heritage's other region loss came against Loganville (7-3) with the Red Devils winning 4-2.

The Patriots will travel to Mt. Airy today to take on Habersham Central (3-7) at 5:30 p.m. before playing Rockdale on Friday.

"I try to get the kids to focus on not looking at what's happened in the past but looking at what's at hand. We know that opportunities are out there for us, but if we don't take care of it Wednesday it's not going to matter," Teal said. "They jumped on us 5-0 the last time we played them at our place. We found a way to get out of it."

Even though Salem and Rockdale did not finish the first half of region play in the top four, they are very much still in the mix to make it to the Class AAAA playoffs.

The Seminoles are in fifth place with a 7-4 record, one-half game behind Loganville who is in fourth place with a 7-3 record.

A Loganville loss would cause the two to switch places after the Seminoles beat Loganville 5-3, giving the Seminoles the tiebreaker advantage.

"You just have to win today and see where you stand at the end of the day. As long as there's a chance we're going to continue to try to get in (the playoffs)," Salem coach Chad Kitchens said.

Sitting a game and a half behind the Seminoles at 5-6 is Rockdale, who's tied with Clarke Central. However, due to a 13-2 win the Bulldogs have the edge.

Winder-Barrow (8-3), who beat Habersham Central 16-5 on Monday, is in third place one-half game ahead of Loganville, who had a bye on Monday.

"We're a game and a half out of third. We're still very much in the race," Kitchens said. "I don't know how many games out of the 10 it's going to take to get in but I would say it's going to take most of them. It all depends, somebody might hit a skid.

"Everybody is going to hit a skid. We've had ours, I hope ours is over with, Heritage had theirs in the beginning of the season. Loganville went through theirs for a couple of games. Madison is the one team that hasn't really had a skid yet."

The final three teams in the region standings are Apalachee and Habersham Central, tied for eighth at 3-7, Monroe Area (ninth, 1-9) and in last place is Cedar Shoals, who at 0-10 is still looking for its first region win.

"Just about any team on any given day in our region can beat any other team," Teal said. "Whenever you start to take somebody lightly, it doesn't matter who it is, that's when you get bit and somebody will sneak up on you."

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.