Rockdale Post 77 repeats as state champion

Rockdale's Joshua Smith (20) jumps on the pile as Cole Hamilton looks on after getting the championship trophy on Tuesday. (Staff Photo: Manny Fils)

Rockdale's Joshua Smith (20) jumps on the pile as Cole Hamilton looks on after getting the championship trophy on Tuesday. (Staff Photo: Manny Fils)


Post 77's Keith Buckhault slides into home plate before Douglasville catcher Jordan Lee can apply the tag during the American Legion championship game at Alpharetta Post 201 on Tuesday. (Staff photo: Manny Fils)

ALPHARETTA — After a sloppy game in the American Legion state championship tournament semifinal on Monday, Rockdale Post 77 came back ready to play as it defeated Douglasville Post 145 14-3 in seven innings to repeat as state champions at Alpharetta Post 201 on Tuesday.

“I enjoyed this year just as much as I did last year,” Rockdale head coach Demarco Hamm said. “It’s a fun feeling.”

Douglasville took the lead early scoring a run in its first at-bats. However, any feelings that the team may have had about winning the game were quickly put to rest by Post 77.

Rockdale came out and scored five runs while sending 11 batters to the plate in the first inning. The team almost went through the order a second time in the following inning sending eight batters to the plate while scoring three runs to take an 8-1 lead.

“That’s the story of these guys,” Hamm said. “It’s going to take a full nine innings to be able to shut them down because we’re always going to have some hope no matter what the score is. Even if someone jumps on us and it’s 10-0, we’re still going to fight.”

Both teams scored a run in the fourth before Douglasville added to its tally in the fifth to make it 9-3. But once again the Post 77 bats sprung to life, scoring five runs and sending 10 batters to bat in the sixth.

Douglasville tried to mount a comeback in the top of the seventh off closer Joshua Smith but it was not going to happen. After getting the first two outs of the inning, Smith gave up a couple of walks before third baseman Keith Buckhault caught the routine pop-fly for the final out of the game.

“I wasn’t worried, I think it (walks) was more of an adrenalin rush,” Hamm said. “I don’t think they were fazed by it.”

Starting pitcher Casey Shubert threw 90 pitches in six innings allowing six hits and three walks while striking out Trevor Billings in the third inning.

Of the three runs scored against Shubert, two came on sacrifice flies with the third as a result on an error.

“Casey pitched wonderful this whole tournament. We really needed him to come through that first game with a shutout and he came up big. I couldn’t be more proud of him,” Hamm said.

Offensively, Rockdale combined for 16 hits against Post 145’s three pitchers. Pacing Post 77 by going 4-for-5 were Evan Alderman and Jake Wright.

Getting a pair of hits were Peyton Pally and Cole Murphy with both of Murphy’s hits going for doubles. Wright had the other extra-base hit hitting a double in the first inning to drive in the first two runs for Rockdale.

Post 77’s next tournament in hopes of advancing to the 2013 American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C. will be in the Southeast Regional Tournament starting Aug. 8 in Asheboro, N.C. where they will play the host team, Randolph County Post 45. The first game of the doubleheader starts at 4:30 p.m. at McCrary Park.

“We’re going to get back to the drawing board and try to tie up some things,” Hamm said. “When we go to regional, teams are going to be just as good as us so we have to be ready to play.”