Pats sit in first after 5-3 victory

CONYERS - Timely hitting by Heritage helped put the Patriots atop Region 8-AAAA with their 5-3 win over Apalachee on Tuesday.

"It's been somebody different getting key hits with runners in scoring position," Heritage coach Casey Teal said. "We did a good job when we had those opportunities."

Heritage (13-5, 11-2) remains tied with Madison County (15-4, 11-2) but owns the tiebreaker in region play.

Travis Tarleton drove in Tyler Austin twice. Ryan Cochran, Cole Peeples and Anthony Bazzani also contributed RBIs.

"It would have been easy for us to lose our composure at times based on the events that take place in a game. But our kids are able to keep their composure in a game where it's not easy to do that. It shows that the kids are able to be relaxed and play the same way all the time," Teal said.

The Patriots found themselves in a hole after giving up two runs in the top of the first inning. But Austin was able to make it 2-1 when Tarleton bounced the ball off the wall for a stand-up double in the home half of the first.

After giving up two runs, three hits and hitting a batter, Heritage pitcher Brandon Thomas settled down and threw three good innings.

"He wasn't so smooth in the first inning, but he came through and did an excellent job," Teal said. "He could have easily gone down hill after that, but I'm pleased with how he came out in the second inning. He did an excellent job."

Heritage tied the game 2-2 in the fourth on a solo home run by Cochran before Thomas let a pitch slip in the sixth, resulting in a Hunter Coleman homer.

In six innings on the mound, Thomas struck out two, hit a batter and gave up six hits.

However, the Patriots did not let losing the lead bother them, scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 5-3 lead.

"We started off slow the last we played them," Teal said. "We found a way to win and get through it. We executed with a plan and came through successfully."

Austin tied the game on a Tarleton single before being moved to third on a Thomas hit. Tarleton eventually crossed the plate on a Peeples sacrifice fly to give the Patriots a 4-3 lead.

Thomas gave Heritage an insurance run, scoring on a Bazzani double.

Tarleton led the Patriots offensively with two hits, with Nick Woodward, Austin, Cochran, Thomas and Bazzani getting one each.

Getting the save for the Patriots was Kelvan Diaz, who retired all three batters in the seventh inning, striking out two.

"He's been big for us all year," said Teal. "That was key on the mound. We know that we're going to be all right when we put him in there."

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