This was the case for the eighth-ranked (Class AAAA) Heritage Patriots on Wednesday as they held an open batting practice and earned a win in the process, beating Monroe Area 12-2 in six innings on Senior Day at Heritage High School.
The Patriots pounded out 11 hits and posted multiple runs in every inning, except for their scoreless fifth, to secure a season-sweep over the visiting Hurricanes. This victory improved Heritage's record to 18-7 overall and 16-4 in Region 8-AAAA.
"We did what we had to get the win. We're looking forward to playing in the postseason. Monroe (Area) is scrappy and they continued to battle. They don't quit. I'm proud of our kids," said Heritage baseball coach Casey Teal. "We played a tough region schedule and I feel we're better prepared for the playoffs going through this region. I know Madison County, Loganville and Winder-Barrow feel the same way. I'm proud of our kids for getting a playoff berth."
Heritage's hit parade started with a three-run first inning, all with two outs. Things began to unravel for Monroe Area courtesy of a throwing error by Hurricane pitcher Josh Rawlings while trying to field a bunt by Ryan Cochran. Rawlings' rushed throw sailed over the head of first baseman Avery Starnes, which allowed Tyler Austin, who was the starting pitcher, to score and advanced Travis Tarleton to third. Next, Brandon Thomas came through with a two-run single for a 3-0 lead.
In the top of the second, Monroe Area followed up with consecutive RBI singles by Jonathon Hall and Ryan Lemonds, cutting the deficit to 3-2. Left fielder Sammy Cann came up next, but hit into a double play to end the inning, which proved be the last time the game would reflect a competitive score.
Including the double play, Heritage's Austin mowed down eight-straight batter before being pulled and moving to catcher in the top of the fifth with his squad comfortably up 9-2.
On Thursday, April 30, Heritage hit the road for a non-region match with No. 1-ranked (Class AA) Columbus on the campus of Gordon College. The Patriots, however, came up on the short end of the stick, falling 5-4. The team finished the regular season with an overall record of 18-8.