Houston County swept Heritage Thursday to move on in the GHSA Class AAAAAA state baseball tournament. The Bears beat the Patriots 4-1 in Game 1 and 1-0 in 10 innings in Game 2 and will now play the winner between Pope and Harrison. Those two split their games and will play a deciding Game 3 today.
As far as the trip to late-night finishing road trip, the series came to an end on Jacob Profit’s single that scored Dillon Toms, who had been sacrificed to second by Connor Martin.
The inning prior to that, Houston County loaded the bases but couldn’t get a clutch hit. It left six runners on in all, but that was something Heritage could sympathize with likewise. It left 10 runners on. Or, maybe had that many runners stranded, as neither pitching staff was willing to give much.
The Bears used two, Chandler Dawson to start and Bryant Rowell to finish. Dawson worked seven innings. He gave up four hits, struck out seven and walked two. Rowell worked three, gave up a hit, struck out two and walked one.
Nick Watson-Garcia threw eight innings for the Conyers host. He gave up four hits and also struck out seven. Darryl Buggs threw an inning and a third and was touched up for two hits, the aforementioned game-winner, while striking out one. The Bears finished with six hits – all singles: Dawson (1-4), Corbet Luna (1-4), Chandler Ring (1-4), Logan Morris (1-4), Toms (1-4) and Profit (1-4). Heritage had five, two of those going to Ray Joseph in five at bats.
Despite the score, the first game had the same feel – the two met in the opening round last year, with the Bears winning 4-3 in each contest, so that shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
Neither could score in the first two innings. Houston County managed just a walk while Heritage had a single and a double, but the latter came with two outs in the second.
The Bears scored in the third when Profit singled – his only hit in three at bats – Dawson walked – he was 0-3 otherwise – and Luna, who went 1-3 with a walk, singled home Profit.
Logan Morris’ homerun accounted for the second run. That came in the fourth. He was 1-3 with a walk and two RBIs.
The Patriots cut it in half with a run in the bottom half of the inning – a double and back-to-back singles. Two errors in the fifth nearly paved the way for the Bears to score again but a strikeout kept that from happening.
Meanwhile, Cameron Jones, who worked all seven innings easily recovered from the run the previous inning and set about setting Heritage down in order in the fifth. He, giving up just four hits in all, hit a batsman in the sixth but struck out the next hitter. He also gave up a walk in the seventh – one of only two – but recorded his seventh strikeout to end the game.
The Bears’ final two runs came in the seventh. They were aided by two errors, a dropped third strike in which Ring was able to real first base and two walks.