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Bazzani dominates in rivalry win
Heritage starting pitcher Domenic Bazzani struck out nine batters in the Patriots' win over Rockdale County. - photo by Matt Smith

The Heritage Patriots varsity baseball team picked up a dominating rivalry victory Friday night, defeating the Rockdale County Bulldogs 10-1 in non-region action on the road.

Heritage touched up the Bulldogs for five runs in the second inning while starting pitcher Domenic Bazzani delivered a stellar pitching performance on the mound, striking out nine Bulldogs while allowed just one run in four innings of work.

The Patriots’ pitching staff struck out 13 total batters, while Rockdale’s starter Tyler Page was touched up early. Page allowed six runs in 1-1/3 innings, ending his night with four walks and a hit batter.

Leading 1-0 after the first inning, Heritage plated five runs in the first half of the second frame, blowing open the rivalry contest.

Austin New started the Patriots’ scoring run, safely reaching first after Page plunked him at the plate. New stole second and third, touching home on a Rockdale throwing error as the Patriots’ designated hitter rounded third. The Bulldogs’ throw skipped in front of the bag and into the outfield, allowing New to cross home plate.

New’s score was the first of many for the Patriots in the inning after Page walked three consecutive Heritage batters to load the bases. With the bases full, Bazzani blasted in a pair of runs on a shot to centerfield, extending Heritage’s lead to 4-0. 

Bazzani’s base knock ended Page’s night on the mound, but Heritage wasn’t done scoring just yet.

Ryan Sutton crossed the plate a batter later on a Tyler Holcombe ground-out to the mound and Justin Jackson, who pinch ran for Bazzani, reached home on the same play on a wild throw to home.

Zack Walker shut down the final two Heritage batters of the inning, but the Patriots’ damage was done as Heritage held a 7-0 advantage heading into the bottom of the frame.

Rockdale pushed across its lone run in the bottom half of the third, starting off the inning with a Yancey Freeman walk. Freeman moved into scoring position after stealing second and threatened to score on a Malachi Eskin single, but was held at third. Freeman finally touched home a batter later on a Terrell McLaughlin fielder’s choice, trimming Heritage’s lead to 7-1 with four innings to go.

The run turned out to be the last for Rockdale, however, as Heritage plated another run in the top of the fourth. Anthony Williams scored on a wild pitch after reaching base with a lead-off double, and Bazzani tallied a pair of strikeouts in the bottom of the inning to end his night on the mound.

Heritage added a trio of insurance runs in the top of the sixth, the first on a Williams’ single to left field scoring Justin Roberson. Bazzani knocked in Freddy Bryant and Sutton in his final at-bat of the game, extending Heritage’ lead to 10-1 while finishing the night 2-of-4 at the plate with two doubles and four RBIs.

Rockdale threatened in the bottom half of the seventh inning, getting Freeman and Jelani Clarington on base thanks to a pair of Heritage errors, but an Eskin’s single couldn’t score either player and McLaughlin struck out to end the inning, stranding the Bulldogs’ seventh and eight base runners of the night.

Sutton threw three innings of three-hit ball while striking out four in relief of Bazzani, while Bryant joined Bazanni with a 2-of-4 performance at the dish.

Eskin led the Bulldogs’ at the plate with a 2-of-3 night with a pair of singles.

Heritage returns to action Saturday on the road at North Paulding, while the Bulldogs take the field again March 3 at Morgan County.