Heritage Wins State Title
The Eagles baseball team of Vidalia Heritage Academy are the State Champions. In just their fourth season of varsity baseball VHA has claimed their first GAPPS State A Title. Last year Heritage fell in the Championship Game to Habersham, but this year they took care of business as they swept the Lions of Praise Academy in the finals in Powder Springs, GA, last Friday. The win gave this senior class their second athletic State Championship of the year after winning the GAPPS State A Football Championship earlier in the school year.
The first game of the series was a close one, but a big fifth inning propelled the Eagles to the win.
In the top of the first inning the Eagles got a big hit by Ledger Curl as he drilled a solo home run over the left-field fence to put the Eagles on top 1-0. continued from page
Mason Beacham was on the mound for the Eagles and threw a complete game with nine strikeouts. In the bottom of the first inning, he shut down Praise.
In the top of the second inning, the Eagles had a couple runners on base, but couldn't come up with the big hit, sending the game to the bottom of the second with VHA still on top 1-0. The Eagles held in the second, and again had runners on base in the top of the third, but could not drive them in. In the bottom of the third inning, the Lions tied the game on a sacrifice fly. That was all the Eagles allowed in the inning.
Jackson Franklin reached in the top of the fourth inning and moved all the way to third, but was stranded there. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Praise had runners at the corners, but a big couple outs ended the threat from the Lions. VHA finally broke the game open in the top of the fifth inning. Curl got a hit and then Beacham singled to put two runners on. Hardy Franklin came through with an RBI hit to the fence to put VHA on top 2-1. Ethan Sikes added two RBI's for a 4-1 lead. Sikes moved over to third, but was then caught in a run down. He was able to avoid the tag and came in to score to put the Eagles on top 5-1.
Praise did add a run in the bottom of the fourth inning to close the lead to 5-2, but Beacham and the defense did their job over the final two innings to preserve the win, 5-2 in Game 1.
Curl, Sikes and Hardy Franklin each had two hits in the game for the Eagles.
In the second game it was all Eagles as they ran away with the win to win their first State Baseball Championship. The Eagles were the home team in Game 2. JT Cofield was on the hill for VHA in the second game and allowed just three hits to go along with 12 strikeouts. After a scoreless first inning, in the bottom of the second inning RJ Wells came through with an RBI hit to put VHA up 1-0. An error allowed two more runs to score on a ball hit by Beacham. Then Cofield and Beacham scored on an RBI double by Hardy Farnklin for a 5-0 lead. In the top of the third inning, the Lions did plate a run to make it 5-1, but that was the only one the Cofield allowed all game.
The Eagles didn't score again until the bottom of the sixth inning. Curl came in to score on a hit by Hardy Franklin, and then Franklin came in on a hit by Sikes for a 7-1 lead. The Eagles added one more run to take an 8-1 lead into the seventh inning.
In the top of the seventh, Heritage held to take the win, and the State Championship, by that score. Hardy Franklin led the way with 3 RBI's, and Cofield added two. Curl, Hardy Franklin, and Wells each had two hits in the game. VHA Head Coach Seth Sitzman said, “This is just so fun. Up here north of Atlanta, playing for the State Championship, wow, just a blast. These kids knew what they wanted after getting second last year, and they worked so hard to make this happen. They have put in the time and it has paid off. We just buckled down and just did what they needed. This is all about these kids, it is just a beautiful thing. “I have to give a lot of thanks to all the coaches and everyone at Heritage, a special thanks to my wife for all of the help that she gives me all season, and to all of the fans that come out and support these kids. State Champions…It just sounds good!”