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Diamond karats
Farmer, Austin headline All-Region Baseball
Rockdale County hurler Buck Farmer mowed down the competition this season and was selected as the 2009 Region 8-AAAA Pitcher of the Year. Farmer will attend Georgia Tech as he graduated from high school. - photo by R&D Photography

High school baseball in Rockdale County is over in terms of games, but accolades for the area’s talented individual successes continue to pour in as 12 players were selected for the 2009 All-Region 8-AAAA Baseball Team.

The Heritage Patriots led all neighborhood schools with eight players featured, four of which were first-team selections.

"Our kids worked hard and they played baseball the right way. Their effort in practice and in games showed with them making the All-Region Team," said Heritage baseball head coach Casey Teal.

Headlining this overall list of diamond cutters is Rockdale County High flame thrower Buck Farmer, who was named Pitcher of the Year and Heritage’s Tyler Austin, whose skills in the batter’s box earned him the title of Hitter of the Year.

Farmer was a force to be reckoned with on the mound in 2009, recording 88 strikeouts in 51 and one-third innings with a microscopic 1.50 ERA in 12 starts.

His skills caught the eyes of several pro and college scouts; however, the former Bulldog will stay close to home next season as he’s signed to compete at Georgia Tech.

Austin was a multi-dimensional threat for Heritage, seeing significant action as a pitcher and catcher. The senior was an important cog in the Patriots’ playoff machine, posting a .423 batting average with nine home runs, 31 RBI and 30 runs scored while drawing 29 walks.

"Tyler did a good job hitting in the three hole for us and he hit leadoff. The people around him made him better too," said Teal. "He did an excellent job producing and scoring runs for us. He is a solid player."

The hometown heroes joining Farmer and Austin as First-Team players are pitcher/first baseman Anthony Bazzani (Heritage), infielders Nick Woodward (Heritage), Nakeem Forte (Rockdale County) along with outfielders Joseph Lester (Heritage) and Cameron Gibson (Salem).

Second-Team neighborhood stars include pitcher Kelvan Diaz (Heritage), outfielders Ryan Cochran (Heritage), Zane Barefield (Heritage) and Josh Bailey (Salem) as well as infielder Brandon Crumbley (Salem).

Heritage was the cream of the crop in the county, going 20-10 and finishing in second place in Region 8-AAAA at 16-4. The state-ranked Patriots (eighth, Class AAAA polls) advanced to the second round of the playoffs before being swept in two gut-wrenching games on the road against Northgate.

Salem concluded the 2009 season at 13-13 and placed fifth in the league standings at 11-9.

Rockdale County also showcased a .500 record at 11-11 and ranked two spots behind Salem in the region in seventh place at 9-11.

The Bulldogs ended the year by beating Clarke Central 9-0.