BRENTWOOD - An early season game between two of the most consistent baseball programs in the North Coast Section became a one-sided affair quickly on Saturday afternoon, as Heritage blanked Drake, 12-0.
After Heritage starting pitcher Ryan Jackson notched a pair of strikeouts in the top of the first, the Patriots' offense went right to work. Senior infielder Tom Rover doubled on the second pitch he saw, and junior Chaz Myers followed with a single to left to put runners at the corners with no outs. Jackson then helped his own cause with a single to score Rover.
After junior outfielder Keith Jones was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Casey Turturici unloaded them with a three-run double, giving Heritage (1-0) an early 4-0 lead. Drake avoided further damage in the inning, but the early run support was plenty for Jackson. The junior held the Pirates hitless over the first three innings, and left the game after the fourth, having allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out seven.
"Ryan is a composed kid. He had no breaking ball during warm-ups, and he knew it," said Heritage coach Kevin Brannan. "He located the fastball and change-up, and battled. It was a good day for not having his best stuff."
Reece Dexter proved just as effective on the mound for Heritage, tossing a pair of hitless innings in relief of Jackson, striking out three in the process. Jared Cruce pitched a hitless seventh inning to seal the shutout. Meanwhile, the Patriots' offense exploded in the bottom of the fifth inning to put the game well out of reach.
Back-to-back walks to lead off the inning brought up Bryce Arana, and he doubled to score Turturici. Jeff Wexler's ground ball to short then resulted in an error, scoring both Jeff Heinrich and Arana for a 7-0 lead. After Dexter laid down a bunt single, Rover singled through the infield to right, scoring Brayden Sample. Two batters later, a sacrifice fly to right off the bat of Jackson scored Dexter for a 9-0 advantage. Jones later added an RBI single to help complete the rally.
"We were looking to hit fastballs early in the count and put pressure on the defense. It's early in the season, and we wanted to put the pressure on right away," Brannan said. "The kids really bought in today, but with that said, we left some chips on the table, and in a closer game, we will have to execute a bit better."
In addition to his solid day on the mound, Jackson went 2-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs, while Rover and Myers had two hits each. The Patriots had 11 hits as a team, but also took advantage of four Drake errors, while Heritage committed two errors of its own.
Heritage is scheduled to play at Monte Vista this coming Tuesday, Feb. 26, while Drake (1-1) is set to play at Arroyo on the same day. The Pirates opened their season with a 3-0 win at Petaluma this past Wednesday, getting five shutout innings from Colin Brown in the win.