KENNESAW - For 61/2 innings on Wednesday afternoon, everything was going well for Conyers Post 77. They held a 4-2 over the St. Louis Pirates and a rested bullpen was preparing to close out the team's second consecutive victory to open the World Wood Bat Tournament.
That's when things unraveled.
Ryan Huck's two-out, bases-loaded single capped a three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning, and the Pirates nipped Post 77, 5-4.
Chase Ware started the seventh in relief of Anthony Bazzani and gave up a bunt single and a walk before being lifted for Kelvan Diaz.
The right-hander, who was pitching for the first time since June 9, had a seventh inning to forget. He walked Sam Lett to load the bases, then on Brandon Alexander's grounder to first, dropped the toss from Brandon Crumbley which allowed the tying runs to score. After another walk and two strikeouts, Diaz served up Huck's game-winner.
"We thought he was the right guy to go to," said Conyers coach Eddie Bagwell of the Diaz move. "That bunt was big; that put us on our heels a little. You get that out, it changes the inning completely. Tough, (but the) beautiful thing is, we get to play again (today)."
In the second, Bazzani led off with a single and scored on an error by Cody Higgs to put Conyers up 1-0. Tied at 1-1 in the fifth, T.J. Cash had a hustle double when Higgs blooped a hit between the left fielder and third baseman. Two batters later, Ross Roberts drove in Cash with an infield single. An inning later, Travis Tarleton had a run-scoring single before David Lockwood drove him in with a pinch-hit single to put Conyers up 4-1.
Bazzani didn't have his best stuff, walking seven and hitting a batter, but was able to get out of several jams to preserve the lead. He walked the bases loaded with two outs but got Josh Scharff to fly out in the second inning.
After the Pirates tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth on a wild pitch, Bazzani got a fly out and a strikeout to strand the potential go-ahead run at third. In the sixth, he surrendered his second and last hit, a solo home run to Matt Borgschulte that made it 4-2.
"(Bazzani) wasn't as sharp as he would've liked (but) we thought he settled in very nicely," Bagwell said. "I think he pitched good enough to win."
St. Louis starter Jake Powers went the distance and picked up the victory, striking out eight and allowing seven hits and three earned runs.
"I think (Powers) threw extremely well; threw the ball hard (and) over-powered some of our guys. This team...we preach, preach, preach short memories. Put it behind you and move on. That's the way you've got to play."
Conyers continues pool play against ABD California today at 11:30 a.m. at Kell High School.
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at email@example.com