With Heritage’s crushing defeat in the state tournament at Northgate on May 13, high school baseball officially came to a close in Rockdale County for the 2009 season.
Heritage was the premiere club in the community, going 20-10 and finishing in second in Region 8-AAAA at 16-4.
The Patriots were sizzling during the midway point of the season. During this period, they recorded two separate seven-game winning streaks along with taking 14 of 15 from March 13 through April 17.
However, they cooled off down the stretch, going 2-3 over the final weeks of the regular season.
When the playoffs began, Heritage stormed out of the gate, sweeping Paulding County 11-1 in Game 1 and 3-0 in Game 2 during the first round.
The roles were reversed in the second round as the Pats were swept by No. 1 seed Northgate, falling 3-0 in the opener and a heart-breaking 9-8 defeat in Game 2.
"I’m proud of our kids and our seniors for playing like they did. I’m hoping they move on to be successful individuals," said Heritage baseball coach Casey Teal.
"We were up and down at times, whether offensively or defensively. Even though we didn’t play consistent all year, we played very well in round one. Overall, I’m proud of our kids for being good kids. Hopefully the underclassmen have learned something and will be able to carry it over to next year."
While Heritage enjoyed another year of success, 2009 was a season of transition for the Salem Seminoles.
The team was under the direction of a new head coach, Chad Kitchens, and finished at .500, going 13-13 overall. Salem placed fifth in the league standings at 11-9.
This was a far cry from their 2008 performance when the Seminoles went 28-8 and 20-4 in region play with a deep run in the postseason.
This spring, Salem battled to clinch the final spot in the state tournament, but a late-season swoon derailed the team as it lost four of five games to miss the playoffs.
"We were in the hunt until the last three games of the season needing to win two and won zero," said Kitchens.
"Our downfall was close games. We had way too many go the other way. I can tell you that it was not a matter of a lack of effort from the team. The biggest difference between this team and last year’s team was pitching. The 2008 team had four or five guys back with lots of varsity experience. We had some guys step up and do well, but our lack of experience got us in the end."
Rockdale County also ended the year with a .500 record at 11-11.
The Bulldogs were an up-and-down team all season that were never able to find a consistent groove.
Rockdale experienced stretches during the year where it lost four games in a row from March 13 through March 20. The team also reeled off four-straight victories at the beginning of April.
The seventh-place Bulldogs were also the victims of inclement weather as four games were cancelled due to Mother Nature.
Rockdale County closed out the year with a 9-0 rout over Clarke Central.