Demarco Hamm’s first season as Post 77’s manager was Rockdale’s most accomplished, yet it wasn’t what it could have been.
The American Legion baseball team out of Rockdale finished third in the Southeast Region, after falling to Asheboro, N.C., 17-5 in the semifinals Sunday, its highest regional finish ever.
However, Hamm feels the true result of what the game could have been can now never be known.
Rockdale, which had just four losses prior to the regional tournament, had just 11 players in the semifinals against Ahseboro.
Post 77 was so shorthanded it needed to use pitchers as position players. That contributed to a lot of fielding errors.
On the mound, Rockdale had to use pitchers who haven’t thrown regularly, leading to walks and hit batsmen, erasing the fact that Post 77 had just one hit less than North Carolina (12-11).
"They were a good team, but I really can’t give a real accurate estimate of how we could have compared, because we didn’t have a full complement," Hamm said.
"But the score really didn’t indicate how good we were. I feel if we had everyone, it would have been different."
Post 77 also lost to Asheboro in the opening game of the regional tournament, suffering its only shutout defeat of the tournament. Rockdale rallied, defeating Florida in the elimination bracket, before beating Kentucky 13-4 to reach the semifinals.
However, several of Rockdale’s players had to return to school, including Georgia state tournament MVP Cole Murphy. Cameron Ragsdale, Zach Bailey and Eric Smith also weren’t available for Rockdale in the semifinal loss to Asheboro.
"I really think we could have had a shot at winning the whole thing if we had a full complement of players," Hamm said.
Rockdale will lose seven players to the American Legion’s age restriction, including Murphy, Evan Alderman, Zach Bailey, Eric Smith, Tyler Mahan, Keith Buckhault and Jake Wright.
"We had a good group of kids," Hamm said. "No matter what the situation was, we always fought hard. That’s what I can take away from the season; they never quit."