CONYERS - Heritage junior Joseph Lester made his first varsity home run one that he will never forget as it gave the Patriots a 3-2 win over Region 8-AAAA rival Winder-Barrow at Danny Blue Field on Wednesday.
"I've never seen a ball curve that far in my life, never. It was a good 30- to 40-foot break to the right and it curved left," Lester said. "I thought it was going foul then it hooked back right. The wind as blowing and it barely made it in. This was my first home run in varsity ball."
Lester's home run in the bottom of the fifth inning came at a crucial time as the Bulldoggs had a two-run dinger to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth inning.
The win puts Heritage in second place in region play behind undefeated Madison County.
But the win means more than that to the team.
"To win a one-run game against Winder means that we did more of the little things right. Whether it was hitting in the clutch or making a defensive play or pitching, we're getting there. We're not where we need to be yet, but most folks are doing the little things right every single day. I like to see it," Heritage coach Casey Teal said.
Also contributing to the win was the pitching of senior Anthony Bazzani.
In seven innings on the mound, Bazzani struck out six batters while giving up two hits.
But the most important statistic was the fact that he did not give away any free bases with a walk, hit batsman or wild pitch.
"We talked about putting extra runners on the base is like giving 90-feet away," Teal said. "He did an excellent job on the mound for us."
After a scoreless two innings, Zane Barefield put the Patriots on the board when Travis Tarleton hit a long single with two outs and a full count in the home half of the third.
Nick Woodward made it 2-0 on a delayed steal before Bulldoggs pitcher Dustin Dunagan got the strike three call to end the inning with bases loaded.
The Patriots did not get to relish their victory for long as Winder-Barrow tied the game in the top of the fourth with one out on a two-run blast by Taylor Hinshaw.
Heritage was able to keep their composure as the defense stopped Winder-Barrow from getting another base runner in the inning giving Lester the chance for the game-winning homer in the bottom of the fifth.
"We try to play the same way all the time against every opponent. That's why we don't get too up or too down," Teal said. "When something like that happens it's not going to take the wind out of us."
Tarleton paced the Patriots offensively with two hits, including a double.
Also hitting his way to the bases was Tyler Austin.
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.