We are only in the middle of march, and it's already time for meaningful baseball for local schools. Each team is trying to iron out all the wrinkles and form their identity as region play comes upon us within the next week, for most teams. The Heritage Patriots are one of those teams trying find their best baseball as their only a game away from region play. They made a huge step in that direction with an impressive 8-0 win against Woodland on Thursday evening.
Heritage sent its number one pitcher out on the mound, and he did nothing short of domination. Matt Studdard was a BAD man when he took that mound against the Wolfpack. He had command of pitches, showed extreme confidence and threw some downright filthy pitches. Studdard finished the game with five innings pitched, 10 strikeouts and only one hit.
"He is my number one for a reason," Heritage coach Jason Borcherding said. "[Studdard] is very well versed, knows what he is doing and very savvy."
The bats were working for the Patriots too, as they got out to an early lead in the game and never looked back. In the first inning, Heritage put up five runs that started with a single by Drew Terrell that lead to Caleb Pruitt smacking a ball out the infield for an RBI-double. Also, Jake Beach contributed in the inning with an RBI-single. From that point, the game seemed to be in control as Heritage managed three more runs throughout the game.
Injuries have been a major concern for Heritage to start off the season, and the pitching staff has suffered the most. Heritage has lost its number two, three and four guys in their starting rotation. But, Borcherding has got his team focused on region play and the team has embodied the "next man up" theory. It shows the quality of the entire baseball program as a whole as junior varsity players are able to step in and perform for the Patriots.
"It (injuries) happens every year," Borcherding said. "We try to prepare for that in the preseason and try and get as many guys ready as we can."
Heritage (4-1) is currently on a three game winning streak. Offensively, they look steady enough to make some noise in region play with hitters like Pruitt, Terrell and Beach. As far as pitching goes, any time Studdard hits the mound you can almost write it up as a win, but due to injuries the lack of depth in their rotation will be put to test against teams like Clarke Central, Flowery Branch, Gainesville and local rival Salem. Heritage starts region play March 16th in a home game against Gainesville.