COVINGTON - This is the Heritage team that everybody warned you about.
After starting the preseason as the Class AAAA No. 1 ranked team in the state and falling out of the top 10, the Patriots showed that they were not done as they mercy-ruled Salem 11-1 in five innings on Monday.
"I told the team after the game that you don't get ranked preseason No. 1 for no reason," Salem coach Chad Kitchens said. "Up to this point, they have not played as well as everybody though they were going to play and we knew eventually they would come around and start playing like they were capable of playing. We were the unfortunate recipients of when they broke out and really played well."
Offensively, eight of the 10 hitters that faced Salem hit the ball.
The Patriots finished with 12 hits including a double and two home runs by Tyler Austin.
Austin drove in seven of Heritage's runs with a three-run dinger in the first inning and a grand slam in the third.
"He had a good day at the plate. He was more sound then he has been," Heritage coach Casey Teal said. "Not to take anything away from what he did, but we were able to execute throughout the line up.
"If you look at one through nine offensively, that's probably the best we've executed offensively all year. It was everybody in front of him and everybody behind him. It was a team effort."
Also getting multiple hits, going 2-for-3, were Joseph Lester and Anthony Bazzani.
On the mound for Heritage, Kelvan Diaz had a no-hitter though the first three innings before giving up back-to-back hits to Corey Womack and Jimmy Gerard in the fourth inning.
Diaz finished the game allowing just two hits while fanning five batters and not allowing a walk.
"He was great, he hit his spot and changed his speed. I was pleased with his effort," Teal said.
Salem should have known it was going to be a long game when Heritage lead-off hitter Nick Woodward started the game with a double.
Lester also got on base before Austin cleared the bases for a 3-0 lead.
Heritage ended up scoring two more runs to take a 5-0 lead as it had 11 batters take a bat to end the top of the first inning.
"It definitely deflated us," Kitchens said. "You sit there already down in the first inning and you haven't had a chance to bat yet. Even worse is when you do get a chance to bat they sit you down one, two, three."
After a scoreless second inning, Heritage added five more runs to its tally on a walk with bases loaded before Austin's gand slam.
Cody Strange started the game for Salem and went 22/3 innings where he allowed six hits, four walks, two hit batsman while striking out two.
Coming in relief was Logan Singleton, who, in 21/3 innings of work, had two strikeouts while conceding six hits.
Both teams added a run in the fourth inning but Salem was unable to keep from ending the game early.
"We went through the order, one through nine, and we didn't do anything. That's the most deflating part. When you're way behind and you're not doing anything offensively," Kitchens said. "We did at least try to do some positive things. But we just couldn't get enough together to do anything. When you're so far behind you try to press and do too much it's not going to do anybody any good."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.