After a 5-0 romp through the MIA/POW Tournament last weekend, Rockdale Post 77 baseball coach Jack Murphy was prepared for a flat performance from his team in Tuesday's game at Douglasville.
Post 77 was shorthanded due to pitchers being used Thursday through Sunday and other players working and unavailable. However, the entire team seemed to step up from Rockdale's statistic leaders to utility players.
The result was Post 77's biggest victory so far, in an unbeaten season, 22-5 over Douglasville.
The nine-inning game lasted just seven due to the mercy rule, and was decided even earlier than that.
Rockdale jumped out to a 9-0 lead after just one inning, tallying five hits.
"It was just one of those nights," Rockdale coach Jack Murphy said. "They had one of those games that teams have occasionally. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong, as far as errors and walks."
In the first inning alone, Douglasville Post 145 had four errors, allowed one walk and hit one batter. In the second inning, Rockdale followed with three runs off four hits. Douglasville again hit a batter and allowed two walks.
"We just hit the ball extremely well," Murphy said. "I think they ran out of pitching because of the tournament Thursday through Sunday."
The third and fourth innings were an exception to the rest of the game for Rockdale, due to the fact that Post 77 didn't manage a run.
However, in the sixth inning Rockdale got right back to business, scoring five runs on four hits. In the fifth, Douglasville hit another batter, walked two more and committed three errors.
Rockdale finished it in the seventh inning, scoring five runs for the mercy rule victory.
Former Eastside Eagle Randy Loew, who had a strong POW/MIA tournament, continued his hot hitting Tuesday. Loew had two hits, including one in the first inning, and drove in four runs.
Rockdale Bulldog Jeremy Sparks also had a strong game, sliding over from his usual position of second base to play in right field.
Sparks had a single, two RBI and three walks, but more impressively reached base four out of his seven plate appearances, and almost reached safely five times.
"Jeremy is pretty solid," Murphy said. "He really hit one down the third base line that the third baseman just stuck his glove out and caught it. He just took a stab at it and it went into it's glove, but it was smoked."
Morgan County's Fred Williams led the way for Rockdale with four hits, including two doubles, and four RBI. Cole Hamilton started for Post 77, pitching five innings while giving up one earned run.
"There's no way you can forecast what can happen in a baseball game," Murphy said. "Earl Weaver said, ‘Momentum is whoever is pitching for you the next game.' Pitching is so key to the game that there's just no way you can predict what can happen.
The victory improved Rockdale to 14-0 on the season, with 10 games and a tournament left before the state tournament beginning July 26.
"I hope we can maintain it," Murphy said. "The one thing we do have this year, that we never really had, is we have pitching that we need to get those guys some innings. Like Jake Wright, we need to get him some work...And Randy Loew only pitched in two games."