If the Heritage Hawks baseball team hopes to advance to the GISA Final Four for the second year in a row, it will have some work to do Saturday afternoon.
Tiftarea forced the Hawks into a must-win situation on Saturday, when the best-of-three series continues.
The Chargers beat Heritage 12-0 to open the Class AAA Elite Eight playoff series Thursday in a game called after five innings. Heritage set up its date with Tiftarea after sweeping Edmund Burke last week, while Tiftarea knocked off Gatewood twice.
Tiftarea scored multiple runs in every inning except the third to seize the early momentum.
The Chargers outhit the Hawks 12-3.
Heritage had trouble trying to contain Hunter Hartsfield, who went four for four at the plate and drove in six RBIs to help lift the Chargers to the win.
Tiftarea took control of the game in the top of the first when it strung together a one-out rally. Carter Stewart, Dawson Patterson, Cain Cooper and Hartsfield had four straight singles.
Hartsfield knocked in the first run of the game with his base hit and Brandon Prudhomme gave the Chargers a 2-0 lead with his RBI.
The Hawks answered with some offensive fireworks in the bottom of the first inning when Chase Evans led off with a base hit.
Jay Macke made it to first on an error by the Chargers’ pitcher and Kirby Arnall walked to load the base, but Tiftarea pitched out of the jam.
The Chargers increased the lead to 5-0 when they scored three times in the top of the second. Hartsfield continued his RBI quest, driving in two more runs. Stewart also had an RBI.
Macke had a base hit in the third for the Hawks, but was left stranded.
Tiftarea blew the game open in the top of the fourth when three runs crossed the plate to give the Chargers a 8-0 lead.
Hartsfield had his fourth RBI of the game, and Prudhomme and McRay Lentz had RBIs. Lentz drove in his run with a double.
Anthony Williams had the last hit of the game for the Hawks when he reached on a double in the bottom of the fourth, but again Heritage was unable to produce any type of rally.
Tiftarea put an exclamation point on its victory with its final four runs in the top of the fifth.
Hartsfield doubled and drove in his final two runs of the game, and Lentz and Prudhomme also knocked in runs. Patterson went the distance from the mound for Tiftarea, striking out five.