Conyers' run in regional comes to end
Post 77 shut out for first time this season

SUMTER, S.C. - How quickly a season changes.

After surrendering an eighth-inning lead in Saturday's loss to Tuscaloosa (Ala.), Conyers fell 13-0 to Rowan County (N.C.) Post 342 on Sunday in a seven-inning affair at Riley Park.

The loss, Conyers' first by shutout in 2009, ended a remarkable postseason run, which included a Georgia state title and two shutout wins in two American Legion Southeast Regional games.

"Fourteen ballplayers that played their hearts out," Conyers coach Bagwell said. "On and off the field, they were professionals. Gives us something to build for the future."

Post 342, one of the top hitting teams in the tournament, jumped out early on starter Travis Tarleton, scoring two in the first on a single by Noah Holmes and Billy Veal's sacrifice fly.

In the second, two singles and Trey Holmes' three-run home run chased Tarleton and made it a 5-0 game. Beau Thomas relieved and threw a wild pitch for another run and Veal delivered a run-scoring single to push the lead to 7-0.

"(Travis) wasn't throwing enough strikes and they were sitting (on fastballs)," said Bagwell, whose team finished 32-8-2. "You're ... hoping Travis comes out strong; he didn't come out strong enough. (And) they swing the bats."

Pitching was the problem Sunday, but the hitting struggled throughout the four-day run in Sumter.

Conyers hit .200 as a team in four tournament games (.176 in the final two) and left 32 men on base (18 in scoring position). The opposition, which included Tuscaloosa's Alex Aultman (8 IP, 3 ER Saturday) and Rowan County right-hander Nick Smith (7 IP, 4 H, 8 K), were partly to blame for the slump.

"Our hitting, lack of (hitting), finally caught up to us. It was anemic," Bagwell said. "Tuscaloosa and Rowan County are two of the best teams we've played all year."

Smith retired the first eight hitters he faced before Nick Woodward reached on an infield single with two outs in the third. Beau Thomas (error) and Ross Roberts (walk) also reached base before Cameron Gibson grounded out to end what would turn out to be Conyers' biggest threat of the day.

Despite the disappointing finish, Conyers set lofty expectations for the Legion program, which returned to the Southeast Regional for the first time since 1989.

"It ought to be our goal from now on; we want to put together a team that can get back (to the regional) four, five years in a row," Bagwell said. "We had a great season, one of the best in a while. At the end of the day, we're going home 2-2, (but) they can't take Georgia state champs away."

Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at kurt.aschermann@rockdalecitizen.com.