Southwest DeKalb pitchers limited the Rockdale Bulldogs to just two hits, but, it was relief pitcher Mario Alston’s throwing error and a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning that allowed the Bulldogs’ centerfielder Yancey Freeny to score the winning run and defeat the Panthers 2-1 in a non-region game Wednesday at Rockdale Field.
With the win, Rockdale improved to 13-9 on the season, while the Panthers fell to 9-8.
“We try to put the kids in a situation where when something like that happens – an error here and an error there – and we can score a cheap run and win the game,” a relieved Rockdale coach Justin Arrington said.
Southwest DeKalb did all of its scoring in the first inning, as catcher Malik White led off with a single and advanced to second on Bulldogs right-fielder Jelani Clarington’s fielding error. Centerfielder Jason Davis singled and stole second, putting runners on second and third with no outs. Panthers’ designated hitter Kevin Wimbish singled and drove in White, but was thrown out at second trying to stretch his single into a double.
After a double play ball, Southwest DeKalb third baseman Tyler Sylvester struck out, but Bulldog’s catcher Davis Foster dropped the third strike. As Foster threw to first to get Sylvester, Davis, who was on third, broke for home. Rockdale first baseman Tyler Page fired home to Foster, who tagged Davis, ending the inning with Southwest DeKalb leading 1-0.
Meanwhile, Rockdale didn’t have an answer for Panthers’ starter Corey Moody as he gave up just one hit and walked one over his five innings of work.
Southwest DeKalb had a chance to extend its lead in the top of the third as two Malachi Eskin walks and an error by shortstop Jeff Sweat loaded the bases with one out for the Panthers. However, Eskin picked courtesy runner Ashud Moore off of third, and Wimbish grounded back to Eskin, who flipped the ball to Page at first base to end the threat.
An excellent defensive play by the Bulldogs in the sixth inning thwarted another Panthers’ scoring opportunity.
Southwest DeKalb’s Davis led off the top of the sixth with a triple. Wimbish grounded to third baseman Will Hardy, who looked Davis back to third before throwing to Foster to get Wimbish at first. Sylvester hit a fly ball to Clarington in right for the second out, and Davis tagged up and tried to score, again.
Clarington threw the ball to Page. Page fired it to Foster at the plate and Foster tagged Davis out at home for the second time in the game, preserving the 1-0 deficit.
The Panthers undoing began in the bottom of the sixth inning when Kameron Neal was brought in to relieve Moody.
Neal walked leadoff batter Eskin, who advanced to second on shortstop Jeff Sweat’s sacrifice bunt.
Bulldogs’ left-fielder Terrell McLaughlin reached first on Panthers’ second baseman Davian Manley’s error, putting runners on first and second with one out.
Eskin stole third, McLaughlin stole second and Neal walked Clarington to load the bases. With the bases loaded, Neal walked Page on four straight pitches and the Bulldogs and Panthers were tied.
Mario Alston relieved Neal and struck out Rockdale second baseman Thomas Parker before forcing to popup to Manley, ending the inning tied, 1-1.
Rockdale relief pitcher Zack Walker allowed a one-out bunt single to Manley in the top of the seventh inning, but got pinch hitter Myles White to fly out to right field and pinch hitter Ashud Moore to ground out pitcher-to-first to set up the Bulldogs’ fireworks in the bottom of the seventh.
In the final frame, Alston committed the sin of walking leadoff hitter Freeny. Freeny took second on an Alston’s throwing error and it looked as if Alston was trying to pick Freeny off first, but first baseman Malik Akins was not looking for the throw.
Alston tried to stop his motion, but the ball slipped out of his hand, rolled between first and second base, and allowed Freeny to take second.
Hardy struck out trying to bunt Freeny to third, but Freeny took matters into his own hands – or feet – and stole third. With Freeny on third and an 0-2 count on the next batter, Alston threw a wild pitch that went to the backstop.
Freeny broke for home and slid in ahead of the tag, giving the Bulldogs the 2-1 win.
Rockdale, which is tied with Lovejoy for second in Region 2-AAAAAA, plays at Lovejoy tomorrow. First pitch is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.