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Legion notebook: Plenty of heroes for Conyers

DOUGLASVILLE - Ross Roberts, who batted .350 and hit the huge three-run triple in the seventh inning of the title game, won MVP honors, but several others could make a claim to the trophy.

By tournament's end, no one wanted to pitch to center fielder Cameron Gibson (2 HRs, 7 RBIs), and Nick Woodward hit .461 and drove in five runs.

A case could also have been made for starter Kelvan Diaz, who picked up the most important victory of the tournament - an 8-3 win over Douglasville on Saturday in the winners' bracket final. Diaz pitched 72/3 innings of one-run ball and forced Douglasville to win three games for the championship, while Conyers only needed one victory.

"The key to (the tournament title) is we won that third game," coach Eddie Bagwell said. "We saved (Diaz) for this game, specifically."

Starters come through

Conyers proved it had the best starting pitching in the state this weekend as each of the four starters went at least six innings and picked up a victory.

In the tournament opener, left-hander Beau Thomas allowed five earned runs but struck out seven and was aided by an offense that scored 12 runs against Alpharetta pitching.

Anthony Bazzani followed with eight strong innings against Canton, striking out 11 in a 6-4 win.

Diaz had the best start of the four, allowing one earned run against Douglasville, and Brandon Thomas also allowed one earned run in 6 2/3 innings Sunday in the title game.

Austin contributes

Tyler Austin, a projected first-round pick in next June's professional draft, delivered his first RBIs of the weekend in the final, knocking a run-scoring single in the seventh and launching a walk-off home run with a man on in the eighth.

Though he only hit .250 in three games, Austin was hit by a pitch twice and walked twice batting in the No. 2 spot in front of Cameron Gibson.

Rockdale's marathon inning eliminates top seed

Rockdale trailed 8-5 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning Friday against top-seeded Albany Post 30.

No problem.

Rockdale sent 17 batters to the plate and scored 11 runs on nine hits and five walks. Designated hitter Cole Peeples had the big hit of the inning - a game-tying, three-run home run - and all nine batters had at least a hit or a run scored. Three Albany pitchers threw a combined 68 pitches in the inning.

By the numbers

415: Estimated number of feet on Gibson's three-run home run that capped a five-run second inning in the winners bracket final Saturday against Douglasville. Gibson, who hit .461 and drove in seven runs in the tournament, also homered off Canton's Chris Wakefield in Friday's victory.

22: Number of runs Conyers scored in the seventh and eighth innings in four tournament games.

9: Number of runs driven in by Conyers' No. 9 hitter Woodward, leadoff hitter Roberts and No. 2 hitter Austin in the championship game. Woodward and Austin each hit a two-run home run in the decisive eighth inning, Austin's a walk-off that ended the tournament.

35: Rockdale's run output in two tournament wins over Albany Post 512 and Albany Post 30.

Quotable

"It's just so exciting when you come up in a situation like that. When I got to third my heart was beating out of my chest."

- Roberts on his three-run triple in the seventh inning of the championship game.

"We had a winning season again (and) the players played hard and didn't quit, and that's all you can ask for."

- Rockdale coach Jack Murphy after Post 77's season ended in a 16-6 loss to Canton.

"It's the best feeling. I wanted this game more than any game. I think we're ready for (the Southeastern Regional). I think weve got a great shot."

- Gibson

"It feels really good. I feel happy for coach Eddie (Bagwell). I'm happy we could win it for him."

- Thomas

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