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Murphy recruits a winner
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The American Legion Post 77 baseball team won the POW/MIA Tournament in Douglasville for the fourth straight time, the second in a row by the Jack Murphy-led Rockdale team.

Rockdale finished out the 2013 tournament by beating Douglasville 7-1 Sunday afternoon.

David Mayo took the mound for Post 77, giving up just one hit, coming in the fourth inning. Casey Shubert came in as a reliever to close out the seventh win in as many games for Rockdale.

Mayo plays with Rockdale in tournaments not included in the regular season, as he is not on one of the teams from which Post 77 picks its allotment of players. However, many on the Post 77 roster played with Mayo in the Rockdale Youth Baseball Association, and insisted Murphy bring the Loganville High School player onto the team.
Word of mouth is a big way Murphy gets players to join his American Legion team. The American Legion places enrollment rules on each team, restricting each player’s academic institution (high school or college) to equal less than 5,000 students.

With Murphy and just a small staff of assistant coaches leading Post 77, scouting and recruiting players is a difficult task. Therefore, Murphy relies on high school and college coaches, parents and players to help him discover new talent.

Filling out the team is a year-round process for American Legion coaches, with Murphy beginning the next season before the current one concludes.

“We establish contact with the parents of the players on the team, and see who’s going to return for us,” Murphy said.

From there, Murphy calls the high school and college coaches of Post 77’s players to ask if those athletes can return for another year. That conversation often leads to discussions about other players who would be good fits for Murphy and Post 77.

Parents of current Rockdale players also offer recommendations on other possibilities for Murphy and Post 77. That scenario is what happened with Eastside players, as parents have continued to supply Murphy with insight on future players.

“A couple of parents who had a son who played with us the last couple of years said, ‘You need to come look at this kid,’ and they’ll give us a list of names,” Murphy said.

Post 77’s players also help give Murphy names of future teammates, such as the case with Mayo.

Recommendations come from former little league teammates, high school opponents or college teammates.

“We network a lot and get a lot of references,” Murphy said.

That theory of recruiting is paying off, not only with Mayo pitching well in the POW/MIA title win over Douglasville, but also with his hitting performance in Saturday’s 11-0 win over Loganville.

Mayo hit a triple in the run-scoring outburst, which also saw Musashi Briem and Zach Baily notching a double and driving in two runs each. Former Newton pitcher Tripp Loftin picked up the win in Post 77’s victory over Loganville in Rockdale’s final non-elimination round game.

Rockdale then knocked Loganville out of the tournament in the next game, with a 2-0 victory.

Peyton Pallay was the winning pitcher for Rockdale, and Jake Wright tallied a fourth-inning RBI. Cameron Rigsdale drove in Rockdale’s other run in the fourth inning for the final score.

Post 77 travels to Canton today, before playing in the AFLAC Classic at Darton College in Albany Friday through Sunday.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” Murphy said of another strong start. “If you get good ball players, it makes the coaching look good. Fortunately we get great ball players, really great parents and have good chemistry.”