Rockdale Post 77 knocked off nearby county rival Covington Post 32 to win the American Legion State Baseball Tournament in Loganville 4-2 on Sunday, ending any chances of a Post 32 state championship repeat.
Post 77 finishes the season 15-8 and will play in the Southeast Regionals in Asheboro, North Carolina from August 5 - 9. Rockdale swept through the competition in the tournament, going 4-0 and beating Covington twice.
In the bottom first inning of the championship game Covington managed to take a 1-0 lead before Rockdale came fighting back to take a 2-1 lead in the second inning. Post 77 scored again in the fourth and Covington answered in the fifth to make the game 3-2, Rockdale. In the seventh Rockdale scored the final run of the game to go up 4-2, as Post 77 held off Post 32 to win state.
We spoke with Rockdale Post 77 head coach Jeff Silvey about the tournament, beating Covington and preparation for regionals.
The Rockdale News: You guys are sort of battling back and forth throughout the game did you ever at any point think we might not win this?
Jeff Silvey: Most definitely. Covington is a good baseball team, there's no question about that. It was a battle, the whole ballgame. It was two tough teams struggling. It was a good ballgame to watch, fortunately we ended up coming out on top of it. We played good defense, hit the ball in a timely manner, the pitchers threw the ball great, Bill Woodruff threw a great ball game and then Nate came in and finished it up. It was a tough game. It was a good battle, fortunately we came out on top, and it was fun to watch. It was a good ballgame.
RN: So coach, you guys basically swept through the competition in the tournament. You go 4-0 and you beat Covington twice, so talk a little bit about that.
Silvey: The beginning of the tournament I knew we were playing well. Our pitchers were really focusing on what they were doing. Infield/outfield played really, really well. We had good defense. Our hitting was there. It started at the ballgame on that Thursday, pretty strong ballgame that day then we came back on Friday and played another real good baseball game. Then the matchup with Covington came up on Saturday and fortunately we were able to get some things moving later on in the ball game and beat them then came back the next day and were ready to go. The guys were really hungry for it, they played their hearts out. It was nice going 4-0, it was a good solid tournament for the whole baseball team.
RN: What does it feel like to win it in your first year as a head coach?
Silvey: It was good. Honestly, I'm very proud of our guys. First championship like that - I've been involved with ‘em before, but being a head coach and the first one is always nice. The last fly ball of the ballgame, you see it hit and kind of sit there. All three of us coaches that were sitting there on the sidelines right there all kind of held our breath like, "*gulp*...there it is!" It was fun. It was very rewarding for the guys. We worked hard this season. The Guys have done a lot. They've played real hard, we've gotten steadily consistently better as the year's gone on. It was nice to see all the hard work pay off for everybody.
RN: I imagine it has to be all the better with it coming against Covington?
Silvey: Well, you know playing baseball you always play a good baseball team and Covington, they're a good baseball team. There's no question about that. We came out on top this time. Last year they had their state championship, which is good for them, but it was nice beating them. They're a quality baseball team. Bill's got a good program going over there, he's a good guy. It was tough competition no matter what, and yeah it was good beating them, but they're a quality baseball team and like I said Bill's a good man and he runs a good program over there. Fortunately we came out on top this year.
RN: So far how would you rate your first year as head coach?
Silvey: I've been around Legion ball a long time and this team probably has worked as hard as any team to get better as the year's gone on. I feel like the guys that we have on this team are battlers. We have played some very tough competition throughout some different tournaments that we've played in. Went to South Carolina and played two tough teams up there, went down to Albany and played some tough teams down in that tournament, then we went to Troy State and battled some very, very strong teams down there. A couple of those teams were full of D-I players, D-I prospects. We've played in some good competitive games, and I think that has helped to make our team a little more resilient to battle through it, to never really be down and to hold on to win some ball games. At the beginning of the year we didn't do as well as what we did in the tournament and that's just maturity. That's just the guys learning to play together. You take as many schools as we picked from and then you go to put a team together it takes a little while for those guys to start gelling. Even though they're good baseball players, it still takes some time for them to gel and start playing as a team. This summer they've really done a lot to do that, that's the truth. Even in the last three or four weeks they've really started to gel as a team, play as a team and people started doing things as teammates. Giving themselves up on sacrifices, trying to move runners over in the right kind of spots. Pitchers have been getting ground balls and infielders have been going at it, so it was a true team effort to win state. I'm proud of them. We developed this baseball team.
RN: Tell me about how you guys are preparing for regionals.
Silvey: We've taken some batting practice. This weekend was a tough tournament, four games, it was hot. I'm giving them a couple days off just to kind of regroup, get their legs underneath them. We're gonna go out to eat tonight (this past Thursday) as a team. One of the coaches is gonna be leaving us, we're gonna go out and wish him well then we're going to come back on Saturday and workout on Saturday morning. We're gonna present the trophy to the legion on Monday and then probably take some bp (batting practice) and go at it. I'm just kind of giving them a little bit of a break that way they can get themselves built back up and get recouped to get ready to go back out there again.