CONYERS - One night after dropping a disappointing 13-6 loss to Eastside, the Rockdale baseball team got back on the right track Friday night.
Landen Blackwell tossed five strong innings on the mound to pick up the victory and Buck Farmer provided the key blow with a grand slam home run as the Bulldogs (6-4 overall, 5-4 in Region 8-AAAA) collected a 6-3 win over visiting Cedar Shoals.
"Landen did a great job on the mound. He settled down after that first inning," Rockdale coach Casey Martin said. "He wasn't really overbearing, but he got ground balls and made them hit the ball and put it in play."
Blackwell, a sophomore, got off to a slow start in the first inning, surrendering a run. But he bounced to retire nine straight batters in the second, third and fourth innings. In the fifth, he gave up a run on Cedar Shoals' first two hits of the game before being pulled for Farmer in the sixth.
Farmer closed out the victory, chalking up three strikeouts and surrendering an unearned run in the sixth.
In fact, Farmer did most of Rockdale's damage at the plate. His laser to left-center for a grand slam was the key blow in Rockdale's five-run second inning.
With the game tied at 1, Kevin Masters led off the frame with a double and scored later on a passed ball. And then, Farmer drilled his shot after two walks and hit batter.
"We had a big inning there, and thank goodness for the big inning, because again our bats for some reason are staying cold," Martin said. "I'd like to see us hit the ball better. That shouldn't have been a 6-3 ball game. We just didn't hit. We've got to find a way to get our bats hot."
After the second inning, the Bulldogs missed several opportunities to break the game open. Rockdale stranded 10 runners on base during second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, including six in scoring position.
In fact, Rockdale managed just two more hits after the big inning - a single by Jay Shirley in the fifth and an infield single by Kevin Dawkins in the sixth.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at email@example.com.