Rockdale Post 77 pushed its season record to 14-11 overall after accomplishing a three-game sweep of Duluth Post 251 Tuesday. Rockdale won the three games, 12-2, 16-6, and 6-3 respectively.
Originally supposed to be only a doubleheader, Rockdale and Duluth had to take care of some unfinished business. Three weeks earlier, a game between Rockdale and Duluth, which was tied 2-2 in the fifth inning, was stopped because of lightning. They decided to finish that game on Tuesday prior to starting the doubleheader.
Rockdale and Duluth began the game where they left off: in the top of the fifth inning with the score tied 2-2. It turned into a blowout with Rockdale scoring nine runs in the very first inning of play before winning 12-2 in the top of the sixth. Rockdale sent 15 batters to the plate in the first inning with seven of them earning at least a hit. But, Rockdale couldn’t take all the credit since Duluth assisted in its own destruction by committing six errors. It was almost hard to watch. It was the type of massacre even George Custer could appreciate.
Duluth was able to escape the horrific fifth inning one run short of the mercy rule, but Rockdale finished the job in the next inning, finally putting the Duluth team out of its misery. But, the bad news for Duluth was that they still had to play two more games against Rockdale before they could call it a night. It would be a long night indeed.
The next game didn’t turn out much better for Duluth as Rockdale won 16-6 in six innings. J.C Bungman pitched five innings for Post 77 while allowing 10 hits and six earned runs. While Bungman didn’t have his best game, it didn’t really matter, since Rockdale provided more than enough offense to get the win.
Duluth actually had a 2-0 lead going into the second inning, but Rockdale subsequently scored five runs and never looked back. Rockdale went on to score at least one run in every inning to follow, including five runs in the fifth. Marcus Smith went 4-for-5 with three RBIs. Joseph Lester finished the game 3-for-5 with three RBIS, including a two-run homer, and Micah Jones and Chris Jackson each had solo homeruns as well.
Jason Knight relieved Bungamen in the bottom of the sixth and closed out the game. "J.C. [Bungman] might not have had his best stuff tonight, but he still hung in there and battled," said Rockdale coach Jack Murphy. "He’s a great pitcher."
While Rockdale’s first two games were all about hitting, the final game of the night was all about pitching. Josh Stevenson controlled the mound for Rockdale and was simply outstanding. In five innings of work, Stevenson held Duluth to only two hits and one run while striking out nine batters. Cole Peeples took over the pitching duties in the bottom of the sixth, relieving Stevenson who got a well deserved round of applause from the fans as he walked to the dugout. Refusing to go away quietly, Duluth scored two runs late in the game, but Peeples and Rockdale held on to win 6-3.
"Josh pitched a hell of a game," said Murphy. "We’ve been waiting for that because his last couple starts haven’t been that great, but last year he was lights out. I think tonight he was probably 90 percent of what he used to be, so we were pleased to see that.
"We had some good pitching tonight. We think we have four or five, maybe six pitchers that when state comes around we’ll be all right. But, the big picture is we’re really trying to get our whole team in shape so we can try to make a run at state. And, if we get hot at the right time, I think we can do it."