The Covington News - - Sports -

The post had lifted the tro­phy be­fore, thanks to the now-de­funct Cony­ers’ team, but Mur­phy hadn’t been able to claim a state crown af­ter mak­ing a post sea­son trip a reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence, notch­ing an un­de­feated sea­son and go­ing through an­other with just one loss.

Rock­dale will now play in the South­east Re­gion tour­na­ment start­ing Aug. 9 in Sumter, S.C.

Fol­low­ing his state cham­pi­onship win, the re­served vet­eran was al­most at a loss for words, and didn’t want to leave the main field at Lo­ganville’s West Wal­ton Park.

“I tell you what, it just feels great,” Mur­phy said. “I’ve chased that thing for a long time.

“I’ve been try­ing since I be­came head coach in 1995 and I’ve been close a lot of times, but boy this is sweet.”

Mur­phy led Rock­dale through a 26-1 reg­u­lar sea­son, where they won sev­eral games in mercy-ruled dom­i­nat­ing fash­ion.

When the state tour­na­ment be­gan Thurs­day, the re­sults were much the same with the first two games be­ing 7-in­ning run-ruled short­ened con­test. Rock­dale’s sec­ond win of the tour­na­ment was a dom­i­nant 13-3 win over Dou­glasville.

Dou­glasville, how­ever, brushed off the big loss and made it back to the ti­tle game of the dou­ble-elim­i­na­tion tour­na­ment through the loser’s bracket.

When the two teams met again for the ti­tle, it started out look­ing like Dou­glasville had learned its les­son and Rock­dale wouldn’t be able to beat them for a seventh time in the 2012 sea­son.

The score re­mained close with Rock­dale’s Randy Loew keep­ing the op­pos­ing bats at bay de­spite Post 77’s in­abil­ity to score.

Af­ter trail­ing 1-0 af­ter three in­nings, Post 77 took a mo­men­tary lead in the top of the fourth as Fred Wil­liams hit into an er­ror by the sec­ond base­man to lead things off. He would score on a passed ball to tie the game. Rock­dale then went up 2-1 on Loew’s sac­ri­fice to plate his catcher Robert Bell.

That was all Rock­dale could muster through­out much of the game as it left 12 runners in scor­ing po­si­tion through seven in­nings.

In the seventh in­ning, Rock­dale again came back to tie it, this time on a RBI triple by East­side alumni Jake Wright to score Wil­liams, and a sac­ri­fice fly by Bell to score Wright. The seventh in­ning showed a glim­mer of Post 77’s abil­ity to hit in clutch sit­u­a­tions, but the eighth broke open the flood gates.

East­side’s Loew led things off with a dou­ble be­fore Cody Wof­ford walked. An­other for­mer East­side stand­out, Keith Buck­hault then came up to the plate with the or­der to bunt from his coaches. The bunt went foul and the sign was taken off.

Buck­hault then got a pitch up in the strike zone and con­nected with a ball that sailed well over the cen­ter field fence.

“I fouled the bunt off up in the zone, and swung at the next one,” Buck­hault said. “(When I hit it), I wasn’t sure but I knew it was deep.”

Rock­dale’s bench ex­ploded af­ter the home run as the Post 77 play­ers started to eye the state ti­tle.

“They played us tough,” said Mur­phy of Dou­glasville. “You’ve got to take your hat off to them. I think we fi­nally wore them down with Keith’s home run. It doesn’t get any big­ger than that. That home run was ma­jor.”

Rock­dale fol­lowed the big three-run home run with a sin­gle by Jeremy Sparks’ sin­gle, Cole Mur­phy reach­ing on an er­ror and a walk to Wright. Dou­glasville walked Lo­gan Smith with the bases loaded to score sparks and Loew fin­ished the scor­ing on a sin­gle to drive home Mur­phy.

“Af­ter that, we just got hot,” Buck­hault said of his home run.

Rock­dale, which re­placed Loew with Greg Pre­ston in the seventh in­ning went to A.J. Sun­strom in the eighth and ninth in­nings.

Sun­strom, who started Rock­dale’s tour­na­ment opener, fin­ished things off with a strike­out in the eighth, and a big pick off at sec­ond base with the bases loaded and one out.

“The pick off at sec­ond base, that was his call when he got to the mound talk­ing to the short­stop and sec­ond base­man how to set it up, that was a big play,” Mur­phy said. “It took the mo­men­tum out of them.”

Sun­strom came back on in the ninth and threw two more strike­outs, in­clud­ing the tour­na­ment-clinch­ing out.

For­mer East­side play­ers had a big im­pact on the game as Buck­hault fin­ished with three hits, in­clud­ing a sin­gle, triple and home run, Loew had three hits and two RBI and Wright had two hits, two runs and two RBI.

“You got to hand it to my guys; they fought back, they hit the ball,” Mur­phy said. “This is a won­der­ful feel­ing.”

Bryan Fazio /The Cov­ing­ton News

Post 77 cel­e­brates win­ning the state cham­pi­onship Mon­day. Rock­dale will move on to the South­east Re­gion tour­na­ment Aug. 9 in Sumter, S.C.

Bryan Fazio /The Cov­ing­ton News

For­mer East­side stand­out Randy Loew started the cham­pi­onship game for Rock­dale Mon­day.

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