Rockdale trounces Clarke on the diamond

CONYERS -- The last time the Rockdale baseball team played on its home field, region rival Newton's offense exploded for 12 runs. Back at home again Monday facing a former region foe, the Bulldogs' bats were the main attraction.

Phillip Anschutz homered and drove in five runs to lead a 10-hit attack as Rockdale cruised past Clarke Central 13-3 in five innings.

In a battle of former Region 8-AAAAA foes, Rockdale, now in Region 2-AAAAAA, moved to 9-9 overall with the win against region 8's Clarke Central, which lost its eighth consecutive game and fell to 2-13.

Anschutz not only led the offense, clobbering a three-run home run in the third, but allowed just a single in firing two scoreless innings to close out the victory.

Rockdale opened things up in the bottom of the second inning, thanks to a costly Clarke Central error. Gladiators starter Luke Scobba hit the first two batters of the inning, then struck out the next two and appeared to have the third out when Thomas Parker hit a bouncer weakly to third.

Third baseman Noah Fairburn bobbled the ball and didn't have a play, loading the bases for Malachi Eskin. Starting with Eskin's two-run single that made it 5-1, the Bulldogs picked up five consecutive singles, which helped chase Scobba from the game and put the hosts up 9-1.

The first misplay of the night for the Clarke defense helped Rockdale go up for good in the home half of the first. With two on, Tyler Page lifted a sinking line drive to right field that went under the glove of Luke Bennett and rolled to the wall, allowing Yancey Freeny and Eskin to score. Anschutz bounced out to second and Page scored to make it a 3-1 game.

Clarke led briefly when Rockdale starter Kaleb Nieddu had a wild opening inning. Nieddu walked Fairburn to start the game and a wild pitch chased the Gladiators' leadoff hitter to second. Patrick Matthews followed with a bloop single that put the visitors from Athens up 1-0. Nieddu struck out the side in the second, part of a five-strikeout outing for the right-hander and winning pitcher, then surrendered Bennett's two-run double in the third that got Clarke to within 9-3.

Eskin picked up his third hit of the night in the third inning, singling in a run two batters before Anschutz capped his huge night with the three-run blast to left-center field that gave Rockdale a 13-3 cushion.

Rockdale will take a week off before trying to move above the .500 mark for the first time with a game at Luella on Tuesday.