Fast start fizzles for Conyers
Carolina pitching eliminates Post 77 from tourney playoffs

MARIETTA - What started off so promising, now looks to be a wasted week for Conyers Post 77.

Zack Godley pitched five strong innings and Daniel Palka had three hits and drove in three runs to lead the Carolina Cyclones to a 7-2 victory at the 18-under World Wood Bat Tournament, eliminating Conyers (1-2-1) from a chance to play in today's playoffs. Conyers won its first tournament game 5-0 over the East Cobb Titans, but is 0-2-1 since.

"Beating the East Cobb Titans was big for us and I don't think we've been able to get (back) to that level," Conyers coach Eddie Bagwell said.

Carolina jumped out to an early lead on Conyers starter Kelvan Diaz, who made his first start in nearly a month and struck out six in six innings. After Post 77 turned an unconventional 1-5-2-8 double play, Palka ripped a two-out single to put Carolina up 1-0. In the third inning, the Cyclones touched Diaz for three consecutive doubles, including Tyler Jackson and Palka's run-scoring hits to make it 3-0.

"No. 1: the Carolina Cyclones is full of Division I signees," Bagwell said. "They didn't try to do anything fancy, bat on ball, and (Diaz), I thought, pitched extremely well."

Godley, meanwhile, retired the seven batters he faced before Brandon Crumbley hit a one-out single in the third. The right-hander worked around a number of jams in a 76-pitch effort, stranding five base-runners in the middle innings to preserve Carolina's lead.

"(Godley) pounded the strike zone; his curve ball was nasty," Bagwell said. "We didn't respond very well and our guys did a poor job of adjusting."

Conyers' struggles extended to the defense, which had been the most consistent aspect of its game throughout the wood bat tournament. In the sixth, Palka reached on an error by normally sure-handed second baseman Nick Woodward and scored on Diaz's balk to give Carolina a 4-0 lead.

"We had some defensive lapses; I don't know if we're tired (but) we're playing like it," Bagwell said.

Tyler Austin, making his first appearance for Conyers in the wood bat tournament, ripped a double down the leftfield line in the sixth, which put Post 77 on the scoreboard and made it a 4-1 game. After Chase Ware came on in relief in the seventh and served up Chance Veazy's two-run home run to push Carolina's advantage to 6-1, David Lockwood followed Crumbley's double with a single to cut the lead to 6-2.

"We're taking way too many strikes. ... We sure don't teach that. We want to be aggressive," Bagwell said. "I just think we're in a funk; that happens."

Conyers wraps up pool play at 9 a.m. today against the Florida Surge at North Cobb Christian School.

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