Back-to-back champs

Post 77 wins sec­ond straight Amer­i­can Le­gion state ti­tle

The Covington News - - SPORTS - BRYAN FAZIO bfazio@cov­

Rock­dale Post 77 won its sec­ond straight Amer­i­can Le­gion base­ball state cham­pi­onship Tues­day, do­ing so in a rout.

Post 77 didn’t lose a game in the dou­blee­l­im­i­na­tion tour­na­ment in Al­pharetta, win­ning the fi­nal 14-3 in seven in­nings.

Rock­dale, which scored a to­tal of 49 runs through­out its four state tour­na­ment games, con­tin­ued its hot-hit­ting ways in the ti­tle tilt.

“We put up a bunch of runs in a heart­beat, and they stayed pretty level through­out the ball game,” Rock­dale man­ager Demarco Hamm said.

Six play­ers were a part of the 2012 state cham­pi­onship team, and so was Hamm, but as a coach to now-re­tired man­ager Jack Mur­phy. Hamm said his first cham­pi­onship as the coach in charge was sim­i­lar to win­ning last sea­son’s ti­tle.

“There wasn’t re­ally too much dif­fer­ent from this year to last year,” Hamm said. “This year I took a lit­tle more re­spon­si­bil­ity as far as be­hind the scenes type things. But that’s about it.”

For the play­ers re­turn­ing for their sec­ond-straight cham­pi­onship, in­clud­ing Cole Mur­phy and for­mer East­side slug­ger Jake Wright, things were a lit­tle dif­fer­ent as far as con­fi­dence goes.

“I knew it was pos­si­ble be­cause of the core of the guys we had com­ing back,” Hamm said. “The guys were real pumped be­fore the game. They could see an­other state cham­pi­onship in their grasp.

“They were ready for the chal­lenge and were champ­ing at the bit to get out there and play.”

That readi­ness was ev­i­dent early when, af­ter Dou­glasville scored a run in the top of the first in­ning, Rock­dale put five on the board in the bot­tom of the first frame.

It added to its lead, scor­ing three runs in the sec­ond and one in the fourth, be­fore fin­ish­ing things off with a five-run sixth in­ning.

Mur­phy hit two dou­bles and drove in two runs, and Wright had three hits, driv­ing in three runs.

“Both of those guys were the core of the team last year, and they were the guys who stepped up. For lead­er­ship, I couldn’t have asked for a bet­ter job of be­ing tone set­ters and lead­ing by ex­am­ple.

Evan Al­der­man was 4-for-5 hit­ting for Rock­dale, and Mur­phy was tour­na­ment MVP, hit­ting over .500 through­out the four games.

Af­ter throw­ing a com­plete-game shutout in the tour­na­ment’s open­ing game, Casey Shu­bert pitched six in­nings in the cham­pi­onship vic­tory, al­low­ing five hits and walk­ing two.

The three runs al­lowed were the sec­ond­high­est to­tal of the tour­na­ment for Rock­dale, which shutout Lees­burg 11-0 in the opener, beat Daw­sonville 19-1 in the semi­fi­nals and then beat Dou­glasville 15-13 to set up the de­cid­ing fi­nal game.

“It was a sloppy game on both ends,” Hamm said. “Our bats were hot all sea­son and we had to outhit them. That’s the good thing about our team, is we’re go­ing to hit the base­ball.”

In the first game against Dou­glasville, Al­der­man again had four hits and Mur­phy drove in three runs.

Rock­dale will look to con­tinue its of­fen­sive prow­ess in the re­gion tour­na­ment, which be­gins Thurs­day at 7:30 p.m. against the host team Ran­dolph County in Ashe­boro N.C.

Last sea­son Rock­dale fell early in the re­gion tour­na­ment, miss­ing sev­eral play­ers and a good por­tion of its pitch­ing staff due to school start­ing back up. This sea­son, Hamm said, that won’t be the case.

“This year is a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent from last year, where school sched­ules re­ally messed us up,” he said. “This year, they don’t start back in school un­til a week later than usual.”

Dar­rell Everidge /The Cov­ing­ton News

Rock­dale Post 77 won all four state cham­pi­onship tour­na­ment games in Al­pharetta.

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