Asheboro, N.C. — The season came to end for Rockdale Post 77 after losing the American Legion Southeast Regional semifinal game to Asheboro 17-5 in eight innings on Sunday.
Post 77 kept it close for the first few innings before errors, lack of pitching and players took its toll on the team.
“We ran out of pitching then we had a couple of more guys leave because they had to report to school. We had some mismatch position-wise. When you do that along with lack of pitching it spells disaster,” Rockdale head coach Demarco Hamm said. “All the other teams have all their guys because every other state besides Georgia doesn’t start before Labor Day or at the end of August. Everyone else in the regional was fully equipped with 18 guys. But with what we had, I couldn’t have asked for more.”
Other than Evan Alderman, who saw a little bit of work during the regular season, Musashi Briem and Tyler Mahan had not taken a turn on the hill until the semifinal game. The trio combined for three strikeouts, walking nine batters and hitting six batters. Even though they gave up 12 hits, Rockdale’s bats were just as effective with 11 hits of their own.
Pacing Post 77 at the plate with two hits each were Keith and Drew Buckhault, Peyton Pallay and Mahan. Pallay had the only extra-base hit for Rockdale with a double.
Besides having trouble finding the strike zone and the edges of the plate, Rockdale also had trouble in the field with five errors.
“Those errors were mostly from guys playing out of position. We hit the baseball. We had 11 hits to their 12 but errors just killed us and our pitching gave out. We used guys that haven’t used all year. That’s just the kind of position we got put in,” Hamm said. “I believe that if we had everyone there we’d be playing in the finals with the arms that we had and our bats.”
Even though they lost, Hamm could not be prouder of his team that went 2-2 in the regional tournament. Not only did this team get further in the Southeast Regionals than any other team from Post 77, it was the furthest any team from Georgia had advanced since the Leesburg team back in the 1990’s, according to Hamm.
“I’m extremely pleased with that. I sit here and think and imagine what it could’ve been like if we had all 18 guys,” he said. “Next year I want to concentrate on getting a three-peat. I don’t think a team in Georgia has ever done that. That’s something we’re really going to work hard to do.”
Rockdale should have about seven players comeback next year including Drew Buckhault, Hunter Ballard and Pallay who are still in high school at Eastside.
“It shows that we’re going to have a good nucleus again to try to go back next year,” Hamm said. “There are some guys that have already contacted me that want to come and play next year.”