DOUGLASVILLE -- In the latest battle between American Legion Post 77 teams, it came down to a pair of miscues and two clutch hits.
Conyers took advantage of errors by Cameron Lewis and Nakeem Forte, setting up a go-ahead single by Nick Woodward and a two-run home run by Josh Bailey in a five-run fifth inning of a 6-3 victory over Rockdale in the POW/MIA Tournament championship game Sunday at Alexander High School.
Conyers won its second consecutive tournament title and avenged a June 12 loss to its legion neighbor.
Rockdale built a 3-0 lead thanks to a two-run first --Forte scored on catcher Kevin Dawkins' throwing error and Brad Blount's sacrifice fly -- and an RBI-double by Robert Bell in the fourth.
That was enough for starter Brandon Ward. The right-hander put on a ground ball clinic, getting 10 of his 12 outs on the ground, and led 3-1 heading to the bottom of the fifth.
During the fourth, in which Conyers scored a run on a wild pitch, Ward tired and Rockdale coach Jack Murphy went to the bullpen to start the fifth. It proved costly.
"(Ward) ran out of gas. He was struggling there in the fourth," Murphy said.
Conyers welcomed the change.
Facing right-hander Monta Reese with one out, Dawkins worked his way back from an 0-2 hole and drew a walk and Brandon Thomas singled.
After Levi Bonilla's ground out, Beau Thomas hit a ground ball to shortstop that Forte made a nice play on, but his throw was up the first base line, allowing pinch-runner Kelvan Diaz and Brandon Thomas to score and tie the game at 3-3.
In a matter of minutes, Woodward had given Conyers the lead and Bailey had provided a cushion.
"Normally we're a better defensive team than that. We can't afford to make mistakes like that," Murphy said.
"We're happy. I was real pleased the way we didn't give up," said Conyers coach Eddie Bagwell, whose team has won six consecutive games since the loss to Rockdale. "We started off real flat, (but) it's good experience."
Finally blessed with a lead, Travis Tarleton wouldn't give it up.
After relieving starter Beau Thomas, who scattered six hits in five innings, Tarleton ran into trouble in Rockdale's sixth. Dacota Cole doubled and Bell walked with one out, but Lewis hit into an inning-ending double play.
Tarleton walked C.J. McDowell on four pitches to start the seventh, but got three harmless outs to end the tournament.
Winning pitcher Thomas and Tarleton shared Most Valuable Pitcher honors for the tournament, while Bailey, who hit .692 (9-for-13) in the four games, was named Most Valuable Hitter.
"Just doing what I got to do to help the team win," Bailey said.
Rockdale reached the tournament title game with a dramatic victory over Douglasville earlier in the day.
Trailing 8-6 heading into the last half of the sixth inning, Rockdale got a single from McDowell and Jake Parker's walk before Forte roped his third hit of the day to left field to chase home McDowell and make it an 8-7 game.
After Kyle Beech's sacrifice, Brad Blount came to the plate with the tying and winning runs on base and a bizarre sequence followed.
Douglasville reliever Tanner Bryant threw a wild pitch and catcher Alex Myatt at first couldn't find the ball, then took his time getting to it, which allowed Parker to score easily with the tying run. Forte thought he could score as well, but Myatt recovered in time, tossing to Bryant for a deflating second out. No problem for Blount, who worked the count full before launching a solo home run to center.
"3-2, I knew he was going to throw me my pitch," Blount said. "I'd been struggling all day. (It's) very nice."
Rockdale led 6-4 in the top of the sixth thanks to another dramatic home run, this time a two-run shot by Bell an inning earlier. With one out, no one on and the two-hour time limit exceeded, Rockdale needed just two outs to close the game.
Douglasville's Gavin Peters hit a ground ball to Forte and the shortstop's throw appeared to have been in time, but the first-base umpire called Peters safe. Dalton Powell followed with a game-tying, two-run home run off Adam Lass and Douglasville added two more runs against Lass and Mike Venturelli to go up 8-6.
"It was tumultuous to say the least. One minute you're happy, the next you say 'What happened there?'" Murphy said. "I don't think we came in deflated (after the Douglasville sixth), we were angry. It was a tough game."