Post 77 rebounds to win four straight

CONYERS -- An error late in the first game of the AFLAC Georgia Classic Tournament cost Rockdale Post 77 a perfect series as they went 4-1 at the tournament held at Darton College and Paul Ames Complex in Albany.

Post 77 split the series against the North Florida Blacksox on Friday to start tournament play before winning all three games on Saturday.

"We should've won all five of them. But we were a little shorthanded. We had some guys that were sick; we had some guys on vacation, but we still did fine," Rockdale coach Demarco Hamm said.

"Plus it was a wood-bat tournament and our first wood-bat tournament of the season. That makes a difference as well.

"It makes a difference, especially if you're not used to swinging them. A simple little flare can be the difference between composite and wood. The composite can give you a little flare but you really have to strike the wood (bat) pretty solid."

Post 77 had things going its way as it led 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth. Rockdale's Eric Smith was pitching a good game giving up only two hits before an error allowed North Florida to take the lead by scoring two runs. The Blacksox were able to add two more in the sixth to win the game by a 5-2 margin.

In the second game of the doubleheader, Post 77 led 3-1 in the bottom of the third before North Florida put six runs on the board, scoring four runs in the fourth and two in the fifth.

Trailing 7-4 heading into the bottom of the final inning, Keith Buckhault came through in the clutch, giving Rockdale the 8-7 win with a walk-off hit.

After starting the second day of the tournament with a 7-0 win over the Georgia Blacksox, Post 77 had a come-from-behind win to defeat Leesburg (Fla.) Post 52 5-4.

Post 77 took a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the third. The Post 52 team closed the gap in the fifth inning before tying the game in the top of the seventh. But a walk-off double by Cameron Ragsdale allowed David Mayo to cross the plate for the win.

In its final game of the tournament against the Albany Paulies, Post 77 stood behind pitcher Tripp Loftin, who never had the game in jeopardy despite the close score. Rockdale took an early lead, going up 2-0 in the first before Albany closed the gap to make it 2-1 in the fourth. But Post 77 answered with a pair of runs in the fifth to give Loftin a comfortable margin. Loftin finished the game with nine strikeouts.

Post 77 finished the game with more than 35 hits for the tournament, including 16 hits against North Florida in the second game. Unfortunately, 11 errors were committed, eight coming in the North Florida series.

Loftin was the only pitcher to throw a complete game -- throwing 102 pitches.

Also getting time on the mound were Mayo, Casey Shubert, Joshua Smith, Cole Hamilton and Ragsdale.

"I'm extremely proud of the guys. They played well and we could have easily won all the ball games. It was more of a round-robin showcase. I think at the end we either tied for first or came in second," Hamm said.

"We're deeper pitcher-wise this year. We're not worried about pitching, it's the amount of innings we can get out of our guys. They pitched really well. Tripp Loftin pitched real well and everyone else was kind of by committee. David Mayo pitched well, too."