Prep Baseball: Heritage School takes another step in playoffs
By DOUG GORMAN
The Heritage School Hawks baseball team might be moving to Class AAA next season, but before they jump up to the higher classification, they are determined to capture one last GISA state title in Class AA.
Saturday afternoon, the Hawks took a step in the right direction with a 10-0 victory over Citizens Christian to advance to the GISA Final Four with a second round sweep.
Now, Heritage School hosts the winner of the Brentwood-Terrell series at home starting Friday in the GISA Class AA semifinals.
The first game is set for Friday with two games scheduled for Saturday if needed.
Sophomore pitcher Brian McKinney picked up the win for the Hawks going the distance an allowing just two hits.
He also struck out five.
After walking the first two men he faced in the bottom of the first inning, McKinney bounced back and struck out the side to get out of the jam against the Patriots.
"I really felt like I was in the groove today,” he said. “I had some good defense behind me, and I was just confident we were going to go out there and win.”
The Patriots had few opportunities to score in Saturday’s contest. After the two walks to lead off the game, Citizens Christian put just four more base runner on board.
Kade Wright’s single in the second inning was Citizen’s Christian’s first base hit. Ethan Carver added a one-out base hit for the Patriots in the fourth for their only other base hit.
Heritage School coach Lynn Huffstickler knew early in the game McKinney had his good stuff.
“He throws strikes, so we could tell his game was on,” Huffstickler said.
McKinney put his stamp on the Hawks’ victory with a solid performance in the bottom of the seventh. After walking Walter Pridgen with one out in the seventh, McKinney ended game with strikeouts of Zack Ray and Wright.
Heritage School led 4-0 heading to the top of the seventh, but used a six-run explosion to put the game away while sending all nine in the order to the plate.
With the bases loaded in the final frame, Tyler Nix smacked a triple to drive in three runs. A throwing error on the right fielder then brought Nix into score on the play.
Sam Pulsipher drove in a run earlier in the inning and Brad Macke squeezed home Dalton Trammell with a run also in the seventh.
Heritage School took control of the game in the top of the first thanks to control problems by Patriots pitcher Devin Paulk.
The Hawks loaded the bases without the benefit of a hit and scored their first run of the contest when Patrick McKee came home on Mack Wilkins’ bases-loaded walk.
Heritage scored its first four runs without the benefit of a base hit.
The Hawks made it 2-0 in the second inning when Candler Rich walked and later scored when McKee reached on an error.
Heritage increased the lead to 3-0 in the top of the third when Joe Bonner led off the inning with a walk and eventually scored when he crossed the plate when Macke drove him in on a fielder’s choice.
The Hawks added their fourth run of the game in the top of the fourth when McKee walked to start the inning. After Nix reached on an error and Bonner was hit by a pitch, McKee scored the fourth run of the game on a wild pitch.
Despite the double-digit victory, the Hawks finished the game with just seven hits.
Trammell paced the offense with three singles in a row.
Nix had two hits and McKee scored two of the Hawks runs.
“We feel like we are really playing good baseball right now,” McKee said. “We just want to keep it going.”
The Patriots a few opportunities to score in Saturday’s contest. After the two walks to lead off the game, Citizen’s Christian put just four more base runner on board.
Wright’s single in the second inning was Citizen’s Christian’s first base hit. Ethan Carver added a one-out base hit for the Patriots only other base hit.