Rockdale holds off ELCA charge
Bulldogs start season 2-0

CONYERS - The Rockdale baseball squad won its second game in as many days Tuesday evening at home, this time topping Eagle's Landing Christian Academy 11-8.

On Monday, the Bulldogs (2-0 overall) won 17-1, giving them a grand total of 28 runs in just two games played.

"One thing we're doing now that we didn't do last year is nine guys are hitting the baseball and getting runs in," Rockdale coach Casey Martin said. "I was happy if we played five good innings last year. This year we're focusing on seven innings, and so far that's what we're doing."

Rockdale's Landen Blackwell picked up the win on the mound. Blackwell fanned six batters in four innings, allowing just two runs (one earned), five hits and one walk.

After the Chargers led 1-0 entering the bottom half of the first inning, the Bulldogs countered with three runs of their own.

Rockdale's Kevin Dawkins launched a three-run homer over the center field fence, his second straight game with a home run.

"We're focused on teamwork and having good at-bats. I'm proud to be a Bulldog," Dawkins said, who finished 2-for-2 with three RBIs and three runs scored. "I knew we could do this all along. It just took some effort and some time. It's really coming together and this makes me real happy."

ELCA countered in the next inning by plating five runs on three hits. An RBI triple by Drew Griswell and a two-run dinger by Patrick Long gave the Chargers a 6-3 lead after two innings of action.

Chris Robuck cut the deficit 6-4 with an RBI double in the bottom of the third.

But Long gave his team back the run after an RBI single to left field in the top of the fourth inning.

Trailing 7-4 entering the bottom half of the fifth, the Rockdale bats came to life by tallying four runs on five hits.

Back-to-back singles by Dawkins and Robuck set up RBI opportunities for Blackwell (RBI double) and Chris Sheridan (two-run double). Zack Mathis' RBI single - a lined shot straight up the middle to center - gave Rockdale an 8-7 advantage.

The Chargers knotted the score at 8 in the top of the sixth inning after a throwing error before the Bulldogs scored three more times in the bottom half of the frame.

Kevin Tatum's RBI single up the middle was the icing on the cake.

Rockdale's Buck Farmer retired the side in order during the top half of the seventh, striking out two en route to earning the save.

Levi Haines was tagged for the loss. In five innings pitched, Haines struck out three, allowing 10 hits, eight runs (six earned) and one walk.

"My hat's off to those guys; they've got a really good ball team," Martin said. "We came out and we played seven innings of baseball and ended up beating a good baseball team."

Rockdale's Nakeem Forte (three runs), Robuck and Terrence Hutcherson (two doubles) each collected two hits.

Long ended 3-for-4 with three RBIs and one run. Griswell also finished with multiple hits (triple, double).

"They've gotten the mentality 'we're going to be the team to beat.' The whole mental aspect of these kids has taken a dramatic change, and I knew that's what we were going to have to do as a team to be the baseball team I think we can be," Martin said.

Jason Murdock can be reached at jason.murdock@rockdalecitizen.com.