Post 77 rolls in season opener

The two-time defending state champions looked just fine in their American Legion season opener Tuesday.

Allen Bowen homered, part of a 14-hit attack as Rockdale Post 77 defeated Peachtree City Post 50 10-2 at Henson-Carr Legion Field.

Rockdale (1-0), the two-time defending Georgia state champions, led just 2-0 before opening things up in the middle innings. With one out in the fourth, recent Newton High School graduate Shawn Guckenberger singled and Ryan Sims doubled. Rockdale made it 3-0 when Peachtree City first baseman Nick Fink misplayed a ground ball, while Sims later scored on a wild pitch and Nathan Greene ripped an RBI-double to put the hosts up 5-0.

In the fifth, Salem graduate and Morehouse College signee Cole Gibson and Cameron Ragsdale had consecutive doubles to add another run. Bowen followed with a line drive, two-run home run over the left field wall that put Post 77 up 8-0.

“I thought we hit the ball particularly well (and) overall it was a good game for us,” said Rockdale coach Jack Murphy.

The run support was more than enough for a committee of pitchers that scattered eight hits and struck out 16 batters. Right-hander Bill Woodruff started and tossed four scoreless innings, striking out five to get the win, while Ragsdale was dynamite at the back end, striking out all six batters he faced in the eighth and ninth innings.

In between the six excellent innings from Woodruff and Ragsdale, right-handers Shean Kennedy and Newton graduate Daniel Croom and southpaw Ryan Sapp each struggled at times with control (combined five walks in three innings pitched).

“We’ve got a couple guys that are pitchers and a couple guys that are throwers. We got to work on their mechanics,” said Murphy. “I think everybody’s going to be OK in the long run. we know we’ve got a lot of things we got to work on.”

Fink got a run back virtually by himself in the sixth, helping Peachtree City break up the shut out bid. Fink doubled against Kennedy to start the frame and later, with Sapp on the mound, stole third and scored when catcher Mitch Henley’s throw sailed into left field.

In the bottom of the sixth, Newton graduate M.J. Boykin opened with a double and later scored on Ragsdale’s sacrifice fly. Bowen followed with a single and came around to score on a wild pitch to make it 10-1.

Matthew Gray started for Post 50 and retired the first seven batters he faced. Rockdale broke through against the right-hander in the third as Greene had an infield single and Henley followed with the first of Rockdale’s seven doubles. Boykin’s ground out plated the first run and a two-out error by third baseman Josh Ange chased home pinch-runner Alberto Vargas to put Post 77 ahead 2-0.

Gray tossed four innings and allowed five runs (two earned) to take the loss for the visitors from Fayette County.

Rockdale will play a doubleheader Sunday at Alpharetta Post 201 with game one scheduled for 2 p.m.