Photo: Craig Cappy South Gwinnett's Chad Smith (23) slides safe into home past Brookwood's catcher Zach Moon (10) who waits for a relay throw that never came in Snellville Friday.
SNELLVILLE -- For one night in Region 8-AAAAAA baseball play, the long ball trumped "small ball."
Brookwood didn't have much trouble manufacturing runs by putting the ball in play and using its speed, but two three-run homers -- especially one by Ryan Patterson in the top of the seventh -- proved decisive for South Gwinnett in an 8-6 win Friday night at the Dave Hunter Complex.
Colton Nash also blasted a three-run homer as the Comets (14-3, 7-0) solidified its region lead to a game and a half over the Broncos (10-7, 6-2).
"The kids are finding ways to win," South coach Steve Teschner said. "(Brookwood is) a good baseball team, and they battled hard. They always do. It's always tough to win. I couldn't be prouder of our kids."
It was feast or famine throughout the game for the Comets, who took a 4-1 lead when Nash followed Zack Bogardts' RBI infield single with his three-run bomb in the top of the second.
But Brookwood pecked away most of the evening, initially taking a 1-0 lead by taking advantage of a South error on a double steal in the first, and then getting one of the runs back from the Comets' big inning in the bottom half by cashing in on another miscue and two hits, including Nick Fonseca's RBI infield hit.
But the Broncos' biggest outburst came with South still leading 5-3 in the bottom of the fifth by applying pressure while the ball rarely left the infield.
An infield single by Alvaro Del Castillo and bunt singles by Jordan Dykes and Garrett Reynolds loaded the bases with one out.
Jonathan White then delivered Brookwood's only extra-base hit of the night when he lined a double into the gap in right-center field to tie the game at 5-all.
Brock Baughcum then lifted a sacrifice fly to center, and the Broncos had the lead back at 6-5.
"We run well, and we do a good job of playing small ball," Brookwood coach Rick Howard said. "But we've got to create the drive that put the pressure on people. We've got to get better at that."
Still, it looked like the Broncos' fifth-inning rally might be enough, especially after Michael Ranieri came on in relief of Dykes and struck out JoJo Borrego with the tying run on first to retire South in the top of the sixth.
But Brookwood could not add any insurance runs in the bottom of the inning despite putting two runners on with one out.
The extra cushion might have come in handy after Ranieri (3-1) hit Adrian Martinez to lead off the top of the seventh.
Mason Hart then squared as if to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but pulled the bat back and lined a double into the left-field corner to put runners on second and third with nobody out.
Ranieri then got ahead of Patterson, but his 1-2 offering caught a little too much of the plate.
And the 6-foot, 210-pound senior made him pay by lauching it over the wall just to the center field side of the 362-foot mark in right-center for a three-run homer to vault the Comets back in front 8-6.
"I was expecting something away," said Patterson of his sixth homer of the season. "But luckily, he gave me something inside and I was able to just drop the bat head on it."
Brandon Matics then came out of the bullpen and retired Brookwood in order in the bottom of the inning to record his second save of the season and make a winner out of Chad Smith (4-1), who scattered 10 hits and four earned runs over six innings with three strikeouts.
Patterson finished the game 2-for-4 with a stolen base to go along with his homer, while Nash was 2-for-2 with a walk, the homer and four total RBIs and Montrell Marshall was 3-for-4 and Hart was 2-for-4.
White finished the night 2-for-4 with the two RBIs to lead Brookwood, while Del Castillo, Dykes and Reynolds each added two hits and Fonseca drove in a pair of runs.