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Heritage comes all the way back to beat Salem

CONYERS -- Heading into the bottom of the fourth inning Wednesday, it looked like the recent dominance Heritage had been enjoying over Salem would come to an end.

Salem led 5-0 and appeared destined to not only snap a long losing streak against its county rival, but pick up win No. 1 in league play.

Instead, Heritage scored four times in the fourth and two unearned runs in the sixth to beat Salem 6-5 at Danny Blue Field.

Heritage (3-13, 2-5 Region 8-AAAAA) won for the sixth consecutive time in the series and Salem, which hasn't beaten the Patriots since March 2010, fell to 0-7 in region play and 8-9 overall.

Salem was clinging to a 5-4 lead when starter Garrett Needham gave up a leadoff single to Matt Studdard on his 96th and final pitch of the night. Ryan Read came on in relief and struck out the first two batters he faced. Jack Reach followed by taking a 3-2 pitch for ball four, and Salem catcher Alex Fernatt let it get past him and roll to the backstop, allowing Studdard to race home with the tying run.

The visiting Seminoles' defensive woes would continue. Tyler Holcombe hit a routine ground ball to short stop that Josh Webster couldn't handle, keeping the inning alive and putting runners at first and second. Read again appeared to be out of trouble when Israel Zackery lifted a soft fly ball to right field, but Cole Gibson dropped the ball and Reach scored with what turned out to be the winning run.

Heritage had been held without a hit through three innings by Needham, but Ryan Sutton picked up the first hit of the night by doubling just out of the reach of a diving Zach Bailey in center field, and when Anthony Williams was rounding third he was interfered with. The obstruction call allowed Heritage to score its first run. After a hit batsman and a sacrifice, Freddy Bryant's ground ball was misplayed by first baseman Jason Howell to make it 5-2 and Martin scooted home on the back end of a double steal to get the Patriots to within 5-3.

It was 5-4 when Domenic Bazzani roped a double into the right field corner to score Bryant with the second of four unearned runs for the hosts.

Salem looked good early. The Seminoles, who scored as many runs Wednesday than they had combined in four consecutive losses coming in, went up 2-0 in the second facing Holcombe, who started and was lifted after four batters in the frame, and the southpaw Bazzani. Webster led off with a single, stole second and scored on Teriyan Rocker's single, and later, Bailey poked an RBI single to make it a 2-0 game.

Gibson added a run-scoring single in the third and Tiwuan Head added a two-run single in the fourth for a 5-0 cushion.

Sutton relieved Bazzani in the fifth and allowed just an infield single and a walk in pitching three scoreless innings to get the victory. Read was the tough-luck loser for Salem. The two teams complete their season series Friday at Salem at 5:55 p.m.