NEWNAN –– Almost doesn’t count and unfortunately for No. 3 seed Heritage, this will be the line that lives with the team throughout the summer as its two last-inning rallies fell short of fulfilling a dream. The Patriots lost 3-0 in Game 1 and 9-8 in Game 2 at No. 1 seed Northgate to be eliminated in the second round of the Class AAAA Georgia High School Association State Baseball Tournament.
In Game 1, Northgate hurler Catlan Kendrick out-dueled Heritage’s Anthony Bazzani and quieted the Patriots’ normally heavy metal bats by tossing in a three-hit shut out performance to give his team a 1-0 series lead.
The Vikings scored in the bottom of the second when catcher Kyle LeChance delivered a two-out RBI double for a 1-0 lead. Northgate plated two more runs in the third courtesy of another RBI double, this time by center fielder Drew Tolbert, that sent fellow outfielder Conner Kendrick racing home.
On the play, Tolbert showed his high baseball IQ by taking third after the throw missed the cutoff man in an attempt to tag Kendrick at the plate. The pitcher came up next and Catlan helped his own cause with a single to score Tolbert for the eventual final score.
Heritage made it interesting in the bottom of the seventh by putting two men on with two down, but Kendrick regained his poise to record the final out and the victory.
"My hat’s off to Catlan Kendrick," said Heritage baseball coach Casey Teal. "I have to give him credit. He threw strikes, he was on it and he’s a very good pitcher."
While Game 1 featured great pitching, Game 2 was more of an offensive explosion.
The teams combined for 17 runs, five homers, 17 hits and a dramatic finish for the ages as Northgate triumphed 9-8 for the series sweep.
The Vikings jumped out to a 7-0 lead heading into the bottom of the second and appeared to run the Patriots off the field and out of Newnan.
However, Heritage made it game after Bazzani smacked a three-run shot over the wall in center to cut the deficit to 7-3.
The Pats added another run in the bottom of the third with a solo blast by Nick Woodward, making the score 7-4.
Northgate later added two additional runs in the top of the fifth to give itself a 9-4 cushion, but that safety net began to wither in the seventh behind a valiant Heritage rally.
Tyler Austin delivered a two-run homer and Travis Tarleton had a two-run double, but reliever Andrew Filipowski fanned Ryan Cochran and Bazzani to close the door on the season for Heritage.
"Our kids didn’t quit. They kept battling. We could’ve given up in the last game when we got down so much, but we didn’t, or even after Game 1. They kept fighting throughout the entire game," said Teal.
"It showed what our kids are made of and what kind of heart they had. They kept battling and it summed our senior class and the kids we have in our program. I hate it that we lost both games, but I’m proud of our kids."