Covington finishes as runner-up in Albany tournament

Covington Post 32’s American Legion baseball team came up just a bit short at the Paul Eames Tournament last weekend in Albany. Post 32 won its first five games and reached the tournament championship game before falling to Jacksonville (Florida) Post 283, 4-3.

Despite the loss Sunday, which came when in a tie game Jacksonville started the bottom of the seventh with a single, and after a sacrifice bunt, scored the winning on another single, Post 32 played well for much of the weekend. It was also a great chance to play several games on the same field where the Georgia State Tournament will take place from July 24-28.

“Our goal, frankly, this weekend was to go to Albany, play in their tournament, see their facilities, play in their heat, deal with the gnats,” said Post 32 coach Eddie Bagwell. “We didn’t want it to be a month from now when we did that. The heat was unbearable, 97 degrees (Sunday) and (Saturday. Our guys have an even better feel of what it’s going to take at that level.”

Post 32 defeated host Albany Post 30 3-1 in the semifinals, thanks to Gray Ritchey tossing 6 2/3 of five-hit ball and striking out six in the latest gem for the rising junior at Eastside High School.

“It was huge, (Ritchey) had an extremely strong outing,” said Bagwell. “He’s moving quietly into our number one spot.”

On day one of the tournament, Covington defeated Albany 6-4 and then got a dominant performance on the mound from Domenic Bazzani in a win over Jacksonville. Bazzani, a recent graduate from Heritage High School who is headed to Georgia Perimeter College in the fall, allowed just one single and struck out 13 in six innings of work.

“That was an unbelievable start,” Bagwell said.

Saturday was Ryan Sutton’s day. Another recent Heritage graduate, Sutton was on base four times (including two doubles) and drove in six runs in an 11-5 victory over Tallahassee (Florida) Post 13, then in Post 32’s 14-5 drubbing of Wiregrass, a travel team based out of Dotham, Alabama, Sutton added two more doubles and a pair of RBIs.

“We couldn’t close the deal out (Sunday, but) Jacksonville’s got a good squad…we still walked away with it accomplishing the goals we had set for ourselves,” said Bagwell. “All of them came with great energy. We couldn’t have gotten any better effort out of anybody. It was a good weekend, we were real pleased with everything.”

Covington gets two home games at Alcovy High School this week when it hosts Alpharetta Post 201 today at 7 p.m. and Loganville Post 233 Thursday at 7 p.m. Post 32 also travels to Dawsonville Post 247 for a doubleheader Saturday at 3 p.m.