Tonight's return to legion play couldn't come at a better time for Conyers Post 77.
Coming off a disappointing yet strangely productive 18-under World Wood Bat Tournament, Conyers travels to Alpharetta for one of the final regular season games of the year. The tournament, held in locations throughout Cobb and Fulton counties, could not be considered a success based on Post 77's 1-2-2 record, but several players got a number of looks from local colleges and a professional franchise.
Left-handed-hitting outfielder Ross Roberts, who has been with the team less than a month, continued to impress, getting interest from Piedmont College, Truett-McConnell and Shorter College. Third baseman Travis Tarleton, a fixture in the middle of Post 77's lineup all summer, picked up interest from Dartmouth, while Tyler Austin, one of the team's catchers and a projected first-round selection in next June's amateur draft, threw an inning on the mound at the request of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"Our first goal was to have a good showing and represent Conyers Post 77 well, and we think we did that despite the record," coach Eddie Bagwell said. "Our second goal was to get our guys exposed and give them some opportunity to get on the radar screens for colleges. I felt like we accomplished that."
The tournament started with Alan Busenitz's three-hit shutout in a 5-0 win over the East Cobb Titans. Things seemed to be in place for a deep run in one of the most competitive tournaments in the nation. But all that unraveled quickly.
In Game 2 against the St. Louis Pirates, Conyers relievers Chase Ware and Kelvan Diaz allowed three runs in the bottom of the seventh in a 5-4 loss. The next day, Conyers left the bases loaded in the sixth inning and settled for a 2-2 tie with ABD California. Out-classed in Game 4, Post 77 fell to the Carolina Cyclones 7-2.
"I thought the Cyclones were as good as any team I've seen," Bagwell said. "I thought the ABD California game, we came out flat after the St. Louis Pirates loss. That's not taking (anything) from them, but I thought we were a better ball club. We gave the kids the opportunity to be exposed to that level of play. We'd obviously like to have a better record to reflect it, (but) with the competition I thought we fared very well."
The struggles in the wood bat tournament, which concluded with a 3-3 tie against the Florida Surge in which Conyers didn't score after the first inning, were mostly about hitting. Conyers hit just .198 as a team and scored a total of 16 runs in five games. Meanwhile, the pitching staff surrendered just 16 runs in 35 innings pitched.
"We went into this with hopes of doing better than we did," Bagwell said. "In retrospect, we're really a couple of hits or a couple of errors from being 4-1. In talking to (the Cyclones), they were very impressed that we put together a ball club that represented Rockdale ... and how well we did. That was what we were trying to accomplish."
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.