Posted: Wednesday, April 9th 2014 at 8:06am
Baseball: Heritage takes advantage of Falcons miscues in 9-2 win
By Jeff Hart Staff
FLOWERY BRANCH -- It’s a fine line in Region 8-AAAAA these days.
Flowery Branch came into Tuesday’s matchup with Heritage tied with the Patriots for third place and a chance to grab second if Loganville could knock off Gainesville for a second straight time.
Instead, the Falcons find themselves in fourth place after a 9-2 loss to the Patriots coupled with Gainesville’s 9-6 win over Loganville.
The win for Heritage (13-6, 7-3 Region 8-AAAAA) completed a sweep of the Falcons, was its fourth straight victory, and sets up the Patriots for a run at second place or better over the last two weeks of the season. The Patriots have series against Salem and Apalachee before closing out the regular season with a series against Gainesville.
“This was a huge win for us,” Heritage coach Jason Borcherding said. “We still have some tough games ahead but it sets us up to make a run at this thing.”
It was the third loss in five games for Flowery Branch, which just two weeks ago was challenging for first place. The Falcons play series’ against Apalachee and Clarke Central before facing first-place Loganville in their season finale.
“If we come out with focus like that, it isn’t going to matter who we play,” Flowery Branch coach Scott Myers said. “We can’t continue to fall behind, we can’t continue to not play the game the right way. And right now, we’re not playing the game the right way.”
The Patriots’ Tyler Holcombe navigated through a good Flowery Branch lineup. The senior right-hander surrendered nine hits and walked two but allowed just two runs in six innings and worked out of serious jams in the fourth and fifth innings.
It was a rough start for Flowery Branch (10-6, 5-3) with four errors on defense in the first two innings and just three base runners on offense through the first three innings.
Heritage took advantage of a shaky Dylan Gibeau and Falcons defense at the start. Ryan Sutton walked on four straight pitches to begin the game and moved to second on a wild pitch. After a sacrifice by Holcombe, Sutton scored on a single by Domenic Bazzani. The Patriots made it 2-0 on a RBI single by Matt Studdard scoring Bazzani, who had moved to third on a pair of Flowery Branch errors.
Heritage blew the game open in the second taking advantage of two more Flowery Branch errors and using two double-steals, twice of home, to run out to a 6-0 lead. Gibeau was knocked from the game after just 1 2/3 innings allowing four hits and six runs, only three earned, while striking out two.
“We were behind early, and I don’t think we came out ready to play. We weren’t ready to play – I don’t get it. I don’t know what it is,” Myers said.
The Patriots added single runs in the third and fifth to push their lead to 8-0. They had nine stolen bases in the game.
“We’re not a great offensive team so running is a big part of our game,” Borcherding said. “We just do what we do. We win games on pitching and defense.”
In the fourth, Flowery Branch got a lead off double from Gibeau and a single by Stephen Skeggs to put runners at second and third with no outs after Skeggs stole second. But Holcombe was able to get out of the inning with a pair of ground balls sandwiched around a nice play by Holcombe throwing out Gibeau at the plate on a jump throw to the catcher.
Flowery Branch finally broke through in the sixth loading the bases again and Nolt responded with a one-out, two-run double. Holcombe avoided further damage with a nice diving catch by third baseman Roberson to end the inning and rob the Falcons of two potential runs.
Flowery Branch stranded 10 runners through the first six innings.
“(Tyler) didn’t have his best stuff tonight but he made some pitches when he needed to and we made a couple of good plays behind him,” Borcherding said.
Bazzani relieved Holcombe in the seventh and got the Falcons in order to end the game.
Sutton was the thorn in the side of the Falcons for Heritage. He reached base all five times, scored twice, stole two bases, and knocked in two runs at the top of the order. Freddy Bryant scored three times for the Patriots.
Nolt had three hits and both RBI for Flowery Branch. Seabolt, Hughes, Gibeau, Skeggs, Trey Groves, and Bailey Godfrey each had one hit for the Falcons.
“(Andrew) swung it well and he came out ready to play. He was motivated,” Myers said.
Aaron Miles and Cam Davis pitched well in relief for Flowery Branch. Miles went 3 1/3 innings allowing two runs on four hits and Davis went the final two innings allowing just one run on two hits.
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