CONYERS - Led by senior standout Buck Farmer and some spotty good pitching, Rockdale County opened Region 8-AAAA baseball play with a 10-6 win over Cedar Shoals on Wednesday night.
Using three different pitchers in an effort to rest ace hurler Farmer, Rockdale (3-0,1-0) struck out 14 Jaguars (0-4, 0-1) but also walked 10. Farmer, as the designated hitter, led the offensive output with a 3-for-3 performance that included a hard-hit double.
After both teams scored in the first, the Bulldogs took the lead 2-1 in the second inning when second baseman Zack Mathis doubled and then scored.
After both teams again scored one run in the third inning, Rockdale exploded for three in the bottom of the fourth to take a more commanding lead that Cedar Shoals would never overcome.
"I wasn't real satisfied with the way we played," Bulldogs coach Casey Martin said. "We had too many walks, but defensively we played well and got the outs we needed. Offensively, we didn't hit the ball great but got it in play, and I think the fact this was our first game in over two weeks had something to do with our play."
Martin started the game with left-handed pitcher Kevin Masters, who went three innings and gave up two earned runs on two hits allowed with four walks and five strikeouts.
He then gave way in the fourth to Landon Blackwell, who got the win with a performance that allowed only one hit, albeit a two-run homer by Jaguars third baseman Teion Roach in the bottom of the seventh inning. Blackwell fanned seven Cedar Shoals hitters but walked six. After the home run by Roach, Bernard Thompson retired three batters in a row to get the save. Two of those outs were strikeouts.
Rockdale committed one error, a poor throw by catcher Kevin Dawkins after a strikeout by Masters in the top of the third inning. The error allowed Cedar Shoals to tie the game at 2-2 going into the bottom of the third.
Dawkins, who was injured earlier by a blow to the back of the head by an errant swing, quickly atoned for his mistake by driving in Farmer with a sharply hit single.
Following the three runs in the fourth to take a decisive lead, Rockdale added four more in the fifth inning to stretch its advantage to 10-4.
Leading the way in the fifth was a two-run double by shortstop Nakeem Forte that plated left fielder J.T. Shaw and center fielder Terrence Hutcherson. Forte's hit followed a sacrifice fly by right fielder Ryan Conner that brought home first baseman Chris Sheridan. The final run of the fifth inning and the night for Rockdale came when Farmer doubled home Forte.
The Bulldogs will host Winder on Friday night.