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Squads eye state tournament
Conyers sweeps Rockdale in final game before contest

CONYERS - Conyers certainly looked like a state championship contender, Sunday at Henson-Carr Legion Field.

In its final tuneup before the 10-team state tournament begins Wednesday, Conyers Post 77 swept a doubleheader against Rockdale, 7-6 and 15-3.

Conyers, which after a successful regular season earned the league's No. 2 seed, spent the entirety of the doubleheader giving each of its pitchers work in preparation for Thursday's opener against the Alpharetta/Albany 512 winner.

In game one, a 7-6 victory, the offense exploded for a seven-run fourth inning, highlighted by doubles from Brandon Crumbley and Ross Roberts.

It was a rally coach Eddie Bagwell had to miss. The Post 77 skipper arrived late and said he was changing clothes and looked out and saw third baseman Travis Tarleton single. He quickly returned to the changing room and watched the remainder of the big inning, which at one point included seven consecutive base runners.

Conyers went up another level in the nigthcap, scoring 12 runs in the second inning to cruise to its fourth victory in as many games against Rockdale in 2009.

Bagwell was happy to see the offensive production, but the main objective Sunday was to get the pitchers work.

In the opener, Anthony Bazzani and Brandon Thomas, two important pieces of the pitching staff, fired three innings of scoreless work. Though middle reliever Jimmy Gerard allowed three runs, Chase Ware and David Lockwood finished off the surprisingly close game.

In game two, Kelvan Diaz, Gerard, Ware, Travis Tarleton and Brandon Crumbley all pitched well.

"We got what we wanted - two innings for all our starters, one inning out of our setup guys and one inning out of our closers," Bagwell said. "We're pleased at where our pitching is at the moment."

Bagwell's crew returned to work immediately, working mostly on defense during a Monday workout. Post 77 will workout again today, before Thursday's 4:30 p.m. game.

"We're focusing our practices on defense; first and foremost, we're catching a lot of ground balls," Bagwell said. "They worked hard today, I was real pleased with the effort out of everybody."

Bagwell also talked about the team's focus (all about game one) and possible starting pitching assignments for the tournament, held this season at Hunter Park in Douglasville.

The game one start should come from a group that includes left-hander Tyler Walker, Austin and Thomas. Bazzani is scheduled to make the second start, and if Conyers gets to game three, Bagwell and pitching coach Jody Gilbert will go with Diaz.

"Tyler Walker, Tyler Austin and Brandon Thomas - that's the debate for game one," Bagwell said. "(But) all bets are off; everybody is available. Our focus ... is ... whoever we match up with in that first game. We're going all out for game one, then we'll focus on game two."

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