It was a heartbreaking Thursday afternoon for Rockdale's American Legion baseball team. In the opening round of the Southeast Regional Tournament at Riley Park against Wilmington (N.C.) Post 10, Post 77 coughed up an 8-4 lead and lost 9-8 on a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The Georgia state champions will be facing elimination when they play the loser of Fort Pierce (Fla.) Post 358 and host Sumter Post 15 today at approximately noon.
Post 77 built a big lead and erased a 4-3 deficit with a five-run eighth inning. After consecutive singles by Cody Wofford and Keith Buckhault started the inning and Buckhault stole second to put runners at second and third, Robert Bell ripped a single that scored Wofford with the tying run. Fred Williams followed with a two-run triple that gave Post 77 a 6-4 lead, and a fielder's choice groundout and infield single from Randy Loew made it 8-4.
That's when things turned sour for the Conyers team.
Wofford relieved Greg Preston, who despite three walks and a hit pitched two scoreless innings, and that's where the North Carolina state champions began their comeback. Chance Shepard had two of his 6 RBIs on a one-out double that made it 8-5, and two batters later Sam Foy's single made it a two-run game. Rockdale went in order in the ninth and that set the stage for Wilmington in the bottom half.
Wofford got the first two outs, but never got the third. A double and a walk put the tying and winning runs on base, and after another walk loaded the bases, Shepard struck again, this time with a walk-off single that sent Post 77 to the loser's bracket.
Wilmington starter Bryan Sammons and Kenny Lanier each allowed four earned runs before Gray Brooks pitched 1 scoreless innings for the win.