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State champs
Conyers Post 77 wins American Legion title

DOUGLASVILLE - The 1989 Conyers Post 77 team now has some championship company.

Brandon Thomas pitched into the seventh inning and Conyers hit three home runs in a 13-3 victory over Douglasville on Sunday that clinched the Georgia American Legion state title.

Conyers, which outscored four opponents 39-14 over the five-day tournament at Hunter Park, will represent Georgia in the eight-team Southeast Regional Tournament from Aug. 6 to 10 in Sumter, S.C.

"Twenty years, we've had a few opportunities and we came close; it's very emotional for me," said coach Eddie Bagwell. "Now to have the chance to represent our state at the Southeast Regional is a huge opportunity. I'm happy for our kids."

Douglasville, which lost Saturday to Conyers but defeated Canton on Sunday morning to reach the title series, grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first when Dusty Davis scored on a wild pitch.

Conyers pulled even on Chunk Smith's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first, then took the lead for good in the second when Brandon Crumbley started a three-run rally with a leadoff home run.

Thomas was cruising through five innings but had to deal with a Douglasville rally in the sixth and rain in the seventh.

In the sixth, the right-hander yielded a walk and a single, then balked, moving the runners to second and third. Nick Woodward couldn't handle Montana Dowda's ground ball and both runners scored, cutting Conyers' lead to 4-3.

The rains came before the start of the seventh inning, delaying the game 35 minutes. Thomas returned after the delay and got two outs. Travis Tarleton relieved and got a fielder's choice to keep it a 4-3 game.

"I thought I pitched pretty well," said Thomas.

"Brandon Thomas pitched an unbelievable game. He did what he had to do," Bagwell said. "When (Tarleton) came in it was 4-3, that was huge. With his splitter, we were trying to get ground-ball outs."

Conyers opened it up in the bottom of the seventh off Ryan Turner, who pitched admirably in relief of injured starter Brandon Barnett (12/3 IP, 4 ER), and Bradley Mills.

Woodward earned a bases-loaded walk, tournament MVP Ross Roberts polished off a great at-bat with a three-run triple and Tyler Austin ripped a run-scoring single that made it a 9-3 game.

In the eighth, Woodward (.461 average in four games) took a hanging curveball and ripped it for a two-run home run. Two batters later, Austin ended the tournament with a two-run home run.

"That's a good way to end the game, a two-run bomb," Woodward said of Austin's shot.

"We are confident that we can score if our pitching and defense can keep us in ballgames," Bagwell said. "And we finally came up with enough runs late. We got a good ball club. I'm looking forward to being with them another two weeks."

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