CONYERS - Heritage pitcher Tyler Austin struck out seven while allowing only two singles in an efficient 10-0 Region 8 AAAA over Clarke Central of Athens on Friday night before an appreciative home crowd at Danny Blue Field.
Austin, a Patriots junior, also contributed to the offensive production with a single that scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. That line drive broke open a close game and gave Heritage a 5-0 lead.
After holding the visiting Gladiators from Athens to another scoreless frame in the top of the fifth, Austin was a small part of a five-run fifth that closed out the game due to the 10-run rule.
Sparking the fifth-inning scoring was a 3-run double by Heritage centerfielder Joseph Lester. His hit and the resulting runs put the Patriots up by an 8-0 score and the end of the game was imminent.
Heritage closed things out when pinch runner Phillip Kelly scored the 10th and final run on a throwing error by Clarke Central's shortstop.
"Joseph got a good pitch and he drove it," Heritage coach Casey Teal said. "We made some aggressive swings tonight on good pitches and that's a good sign. We're getting there, playing better, but we're not there yet."
The game was close through the first three innings as Clarke Central pitcher Jay Swinford showed good control of his pitches and allowed Heritage only one run each in the first and second innings. He held the Patriots scoreless in the third frame but saw his control wane in the fourth by hitting leadoff Heritage hitter Elliott Walker and then gave up three walks before finally getting out of the inning. But Heritage scored three runs when Walker scored on a base on balls to Lester and then the two-run single by Austin.
Heritage's first run in the first inning came when Lester and Austin walked and then executed a nifty double steal to advance to third and second base, respectively. Lester came home when catcher Travis Tarleton grounded to the second baseman and was out on a fielder's choice.
The Patriot's run in the second inning was produced when first baseman Anthony Bazzani doubled off the centerfield fence and later scored on a single up the middle by rightfielder Ryan Cochran.
Scoring in the five-run fifth for Heritage off of Lester's double were Cochran, leftfielder Zane Barefield and shortstop Nick Woodward. Cochan reached first on a walk while Barefield bunted safely and Woodward hit into a fielder's choice. The fourth run of the inning was scored by Lester when Austin singled him home and was then replaced on first by Kelly.
The win ups Heritage's regional record to 3-1 and 6-4 for the season. The Patriots travel to Athens on Monday to play Cedar Shoals.