Top-ranked Brentwood too much for Heritage School
By DOUG GORMAN
The Heritage School Hawks baseball team’s season has come to a screeching halt.
Brentwood Academy, the top-ranked team in the GISA Class AA poll, swept the Hawks in the final four, to end Heritage School's season with a 21-6 record.
Heritage School, winners of the GISA state crown in 2010, advanced to the Final Four for the third time in four years, but was no match against the War Eagles, who improved to 29-1 and are ranked among the nation’s best high school teams.
A year ago, Heritage School had a short playoff run, losing to Citizens Christian in the first round of the state tournament.
This time, the team stayed ranked all season and won a region title,
“Coming into the season, we really didn’t know what we had,” Heritage School coach Lynn Huffstickler said. “We were so young. Our kids played well, we improved every week, and I am proud of all of kids.”
Already facing elimination heading into Saturday’s contest, Heritage School never got itself on track, finishing with just two hits against Brentwood starter Austin Brannen.
Heritage School picked up both of its hits in the first inning, as Patrick McKee and Joe Bonner reached with singles. Starting Heritage School pitcher Tyler Nix coaxed a walk from Brannen to then load the bases, but Brannen bounced back with a strikeout to end the Hawks’ only threat of the game.
Candler Rich was the third and last base runner for Heritage. The Hawks’ lead off hitter and center fielder walked in the third inning, but the inning quickly ended on a double-play ball.
“This was a good team we lost to,” Huffstickler said. “Everybody is picking them to win. They can hit it, they can field it and they can pitch.”
The War Eagles swept the series and didn’t even use their No. 1 pitcher Josh Wolfe.
“Their staff does a great job,” Huffstickler said. “They are just a very good baseball team.”
After pitching out of trouble in the first inning, Brannen faced the minimum nine batters over the next three innings.
His pitching masterpiece included striking out two batters in the fourth.
The War Eagles did most of their offensive damage with just six hits, but they put runners on base in every inning using collection of nine Heritage School walks and four errors.
Brentwood also left the bases loaded in the first inning, but still managed to open up the game by bringing three runs across.
An RBI triple by Scott Hall and a single off the bat of Andy Bonifay helped spark the War Eagles’ three-run inning.
Brentwood scored just once in the second inning, but Bonifay showed the War Eagles’ ability to play small ball when he squeezing home Riggs.
Things went from bad to worse for the Hawks after they gave up six runs in the third inning all with two outs to fall behind 10-0.
Base hits by Riggs and Hall helped pace the inning, but the War Eagles scored four runs on a hit batter, two walks and an error.
Two of Brentwood’s runs came across when the Bonifay reached on an error. The War Eagles closed out the scoring with five more runs in the fourth inning, using just two hit to produce their offensive damage.
Brentwood finished the two-game series that went just five innings on Friday and four innings on Saturday without committing an error.
Offensively, for the second game in a row, everybody in Brentwood’s starting lineup reached base at least once.
Riggs was the offensive catalyst for the War Eagles, coaxing three walks out of Heritage pitching. He also worked his way on base with a single and scored four times for en route to the victory.
Hall’s triple and single also helped the Brentwood cause. Hall scored twice with two RBIs.
Despite the loss, Heritage School has reason to be optimistic heading into next season. With only veteran outfielder Ryan Lynch graduating this year, Huffsticker brings back a veteran lineup for the 2013 campaign when Heritage School jumps to Class AAA.
“I am proud of these guys,” he said, “We just didn’t perform this weekend, but that is baseball.”