Senior pitcher Domenic Bazzani pitched a four-hit complete game, and Isreal Zackery drove in four runs, as the Heritage Patriots scored early and often in a 9-2 Region 8-AAAAA victory over the Winder-Barrow Bulldoggs Wednesday at Danny Blue Field in Conyers.
Heritage improved to 9-5 on the season, 3-2 in Region 8-AAAAA. Winder dropped to 8-4, 4-1 in Region 8-AAAAA.
“We’re starting to reap the benefits of our kids who had to play last year after we graduated nine seniors in 2012,” Heritage coach Jason Borcherding said. “We were really young last year. I started four freshmen, three sophomores and two juniors last year. It was a year where we had to mature over the season. But, we’re reaping the benefits of them playing last year and gaining that experience.”
Bazzani, who will pitch at Georgia Perimeter College next year, allowed a leadoff single to Winder’s Bailey Hawkins. However, he proceeded to strike out three of the next four batters – totaling 10 strikeouts for the game - and did not allow another hit until the fourth inning.
Heritage stormed out of the gate in its half of the first inning as centerfielder Ryan Sutton led off with a single. Rightfielder Tyler Holcombe followed with a single and Bazzani walked, loading the bases. Shortstop Zackery proceeded to lace a single into right-center driving in Sutton and Holcombe for a 2-0 lead.
Second baseman Matt Studdard laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third. Third baseman Justin Roberson stroked a single, scoring Bazzani, and moved to second on a wild pitch by the Bulldoggs’ Christian Hodge. However, Zackery overran third base and was tagged out for the second out of the inning.
Leftfielder Austin New reached base on Winder third baseman Tony Matos’ throwing error, which moved Roberson to third. Roberson scored on an error by Winder second baseman Hunter Jackson and the Patriots led 4-0 after one frame.
Bazzani was masterful as he faced just one batter over the minimum over the next three innings.
Winder’s Hodge pitched better, too, although a leadoff walk came back to haunt him. Hodge walked Zackery (1-2, four RBI, two runs scored). Studdard laid down his second sacrifice bunt of the game to move Zackery to second, and Zackery scored on Roberson’s second consecutive single to give Heritage a 5-0 lead after three innings.
Winder got on the scoreboard in the fifth inning as the Patriots allowed two unearned runs.
Bulldoggs’ leftfielder Alex Childers coaxed a walk from Bazzani and stole second. After Bazzani struck out first baseman Cameron Whaley, Bulldoggs' rightfielder Tyler Hamrick sacrifice bunted Childers to third. Bazzani threw a wild pitch to Hawkins that allowed Childers to score. Hawkins would walk, steal second and score on Patriots third baseman George Moll’s throwing error to cut the lead to 5-2.
Heritage would get those two runs right back in the bottom of the fifth, though, as Zackery led off and was hit by a pitch. Studdard hit a high pop-fly to first, but Winder’s Whaley couldn’t make the catch and Heritage had runners at first and second with no outs. Roberson laid down the Patriot’s third sacrifice of the game, and Zackery and Studdard scored on New’s single to, again, stretch the lead to five runs, 7-2.
The Patriots added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth on a two-out double by Zackery that scored Sutton and Bazzani, both of whom had walked, giving Heritage a 9-2 advantage.
Winder tried to scrape together some runs in the top of the seventh on a one-out single by Hawkins. Williams allowed a pass ball that moved Hawkins to second. Hunter would single and put runners at the corners. But, Bazzani struck picked up his ninth and 10th strikeout to seal the victory for the Patriots.
Both schools are back on the diamond today as Heritage visits Winder for the second half of the home-and-home series. First pitch is scheduled for 5:55 p.m. at Winder-Barrow High School.