CONYERS - No one said things were going to be easy for Conyers Post 77. Trailing 6-5, Conyers scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, capped by a walk-off home run by Taylor Jackson, to slip by Rockdale 8-6 in the nightcap of a doubleheader sweep, Sunday at Henson-Carr Field.
"I thought it had a chance, but I thought the right fielder was going to catch it," said Jackson, referring to 6-4 Micah Jones.
"It kept going," said Conyers coach Eddie Bagwell. "Taylor came up big; he's got great bat speed."
Rockdale took the seventh-inning lead on Josh Flippen's RBI-double, but winning pitcher Anthony Bazzani got Rockdale's Taylor Jackson to strike out looking, ending the threat and setting up a bizarre bottom of the seventh. Bazzani led off the inning with a single and two batters later, Chunk Smith doubled into the left-field corner. Rockdale left-fielder Drew Rogers, just into the game for defensive purposes, hooked up on a perfect relay with third baseman Jake Parker to nip Bazzani at the plate.
Down to its final out, Conyers didn't quit. Smith, after moving up to third on the long relay, scampered home on a wild pitch with the tying run that made it 6-6.
"This team has shown some intestinal fortitude; they really do think they can win any ball game they play in," said Bagwell. "I've never had a team like this before."
Brandon Crumbley, who started game two and gave up five earned runs in 62/3 innings, polished off a great at-bat with a single and Jackson followed with his opposite-field game-winner off losing pitcher Nathan Fawbush (complete game, 12 hits, 8 earned runs).
Conyers (19-3) won 8-5 in the opener, getting a 10 strikeout, complete game from Brandon Thomas. The right-hander struggled early, surrendering two runs in each of the first two innings, but allowed just a solo home run to Cole Peoples in his final five innings of work. That allowed Conyers to mount a comeback, taking the lead for good with a five-run fourth. Thomas helped himself with a two-run single, which gave him nine RBIs in the last three games, and Chunk Smith capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly that made it 6-4.
"We were very fortunate ... very, very lucky to get two today," Bagwell said. "What sticks out to me is that ... (Thomas) made his pitches; got big strikeouts."
Brandon Ward was the tough-luck loser for Rockdale (11-11), allowing eight runs, though just three were earned thanks to four Rockdale errors.
"Both games were disappointing," said Rockdale coach Jack Murphy. "Too many errors; unforced errors. We're not focused. If it was one thing, I could fix it."
Conyers returns to action today in the World Wood Bat 18-under Tournament at Dominion Christian School. Conyers, perhaps a dark horse in the weeklong tournament, will open pool play at 4:30 p.m. against the East Cobb Titans. Rockdale will essentially play three games against Duluth today at Henson-Carr, first completing a suspended game from June 12 before playing a doubleheader.
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org