Post 77 holds off Loganville

Rockdale Post 77 pitcher Kyle Spinks delivers a pitch in Tuesday’s game against Loganville Post 233. Photo by Dwayne Wurley

Rockdale Post 77 pitcher Kyle Spinks delivers a pitch in Tuesday’s game against Loganville Post 233. Photo by Dwayne Wurley

Kyle Spinks threw plenty of strikes, and Loganville had plenty of base-runners in Tuesday’s American Legion baseball game at Henson-Carr Legion Field. Fortunately for Rockdale Post 77, Spinks limited the damage with some help from Post 233.

Spinks allowed 11 to reach base, but with the help of three outs on pickoff plays surrendered just three runs in eight innings as Rockdale won 6-4.

It was a 5-3 lead for Post 77 (13-5-2) when Loganville made two outs on the base paths on the same play in the top of the sixth. Cody Harper and Cody Mixon took Spinks’ first two pitches of the inning and each reached on a bunt single — Mixon’s started foul, and when no one on the Rockdale defense touched the ball, it kicked back into fair territory to put runners at first and second.

Spinks turned to attempt the daylight pickoff play with shortstop Nathan Greene when Harper took off for third. He was eventually tagged out by third baseman Daniel Croom, then Mixon attempted to reach third as well and Croom, having returned to his bag after the rundown, picked up his second putout in a matter of seconds. Spinks struck out Newton High School graduate Tristan McInerny and just like that, Loganville’s threat was vanquished.

Will Smith led off the eighth, which turned out to be Spinks’ final inning, with a single, moved to second on a flyout, but was picked off second.

Loganville also had some misfortune in the fifth contribute to its base-running woes. Post 233 had cut the deficit to 4-2 and still had runners at the corners with two outs when Ben Fortner’s ground ball hit in the foot Nathan Purcell, who was headed to second, for an inning-ending runner’s interference call.

Loganville grabbed the first lead of the night in a two-run top of the first. Jon Milledge-Wells started the game with an infield single and Smith followed with the first of his three singles. After a flyout, Fortner poked an RBI single and Smith later scored on a Spinks’ wild pitch for a 2-0 lead.

Rockdale answered right away against starter and losing pitcher Chase Boone. M.J. Boykin (hit by pitch) and Croom (walk) reached to open the bottom of the first before Allen Bowen went up the middle with a two-run single to tie the game at 2-2.

Three batters later, Shawn Guckenberger’s single chased home Bowen to give Post 77 a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Loganville’s defense helped give Rockdale a fourth run in the third inning. Bowen led off with a walk and moved to second when Boone’s pickoff throw sailed wide of first base. Boone looked to be out of the jam when he induced a ground ball to shortstop out of Guckenberger, but Mixon fell after fielding the ball and his throw from the ground sailed past Fortner at first base.

With Spinks out of the game after throwing 69 of his 88 pitches for strikes, Post 233 tried to rally against closer Josh Smith in the ninth. Harper started the frame with a sharp single, and after a popout it looked as if he’d become the fourth Loganville pickoff victim. But during the ensuing rundown Rockdale made a miscue of its own when first baseman Ryan Sims was called for fielder’s interference. That gave Harper second, and Croom couldn’t handle McInerny’s slow roller to put runners at the corners with one out. Harper scored on Ross Kirkpatrick’s sacrifice fly to make it a 6-4 game, but as the potential tying run, pinch-hitter Bryce Seals struck out on three pitches to end the game.