Rockdale (3-5) managed to score four runs in the first and final innings, but the Bulldogs couldn't overcome its own errors (seven) despite accruing more hits than North Oconee (nine to six) falling 7-4 Monday evening at home.
The game didn't look good at the top of the first inning for the Bulldogs. In fact, it looked as if the Bulldogs kept up their current pace they'd be in for a long day or a shortened game. The Titans jumped out to an early 3-0 lead after the top of the first that was assisted by three errors from the Bulldogs despite RCHS pitcher Ahmaad O'Neal throwing two K's with just one walk.
However, Rockdale answered each run in the bottom of the first. With the bases loaded and just one out, Jeff Sweat blasted a shot that turned into a double with two RBI. Freshman Taylor Wilkinson drove in another run to tie the game before being caught in a rundown at second base.
The inning closed with the game tied at three. The Bulldogs were looking to get the third-straight out at the top of the second inning to go three up and three down before an errant throw landed a North Oconee player in scoring position. The next batter drove in the run to give the Titans a 4-3 lead.
That lead stood pat until the fifth inning when the Titans secured another run before adding two more in the sixth inning to take a 7-3 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh.
Somehow, with one out, Rockdale managed to load the bases. A pop fly gave the Bulldogs their second out of the inning. Sweat fought off a third strike and hit the ball straight to second but the Titans made their first error of the game, leading to a Bulldog score.
The next at-bat turned into another pop out to end the game. Rockdale finished with nine hits and seven errors while North Oconee finished with six hits and one error.
"We got young kids and they're fighting their hearts out," Jonathan Brewer, Rockdale head baseball coach, said. "Bottom line is we got to catch the ball. We've fixed the pitching, we've reduced the walks, but we're having trouble catching the ball in critical situations, having trouble hitting the ball in critical situations and that's part of being a young team. It's disappointing but I do think we're improving."
The Bulldogs actually have talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball, which is evident by the numbers the team put up. Errors and leaving runners on base looks like the Bulldogs biggest issue, which Brewer hopes is all mental.
"These boys know how to catch ground balls, they catch them in practice," Brewer said. "I think they get a little tight in game situations. A lot of it is just going to be growing up and I hope we can grow up before next week or its going to be a long year in region."