Summer baseball started out with a bang this weekend as Post 77 opened up the 2012 American Legion season 4-0.
Post 77 began its season with a resounding 14-0 victory over Peachtree City. Peachtree City Post 50 found its way on the scoreboard in the second game of Saturday's double header but still came up short with Rockdale winning 7-3.
Sunday, Rockdale played host to Alpharetta in a double header, coming away with a 5-0 win in the opener and a come-from-behind 13-8 victory in the nightcap.
Based in Rockdale, Post 77 draws from players throughout the metro Atlanta area, including Eastside High.
The Eagles helped put their spin on things Sunday as Jake Wright and Keith Buckhault make their first appearance with the team since returning from vacation Saturday.
Eastside was also represented by former Eagles' pitchers Randy Loew and Tripp Loftin.
Loew, who attends Southern Union State after graduating from Eastside in 2011, started Sunday's opener, shutting out Post 201 in five innings, allowing three hits. Logan Smith came in and pitched the last two innings in relief.
"Randy Loew pitched the first game and didn't get the run support that we did in the first games, but Randy pitched great for five innings," Post 77 coach Jack Murphy said. "He was really on board."
Despite scoring a combined 39 runs in the four games, Rockdale tallied just one run, and it came in the 5-0 win over Alpharetta. While Loew led the way on the mound, fellow Eastside alum, Buckhault did so at the plate.
Buckhault came up with the home run and added two other hits in the victory.
"We hit one home run and he hit it Sunday afternoon," Murphy said. "We got (Buckhault and Wright) some game time Sunday."
Wright had a steal and some hits on Sunday, and also pitched one inning of relief in the second game. His hit total could have been even higher though, if not for Buckhault.
"In the second game, Keith cost him two RBI because Jake hit a hard ground ball between first and second with Keith on first," Murphy said. "Unfortunately Keith and the ball got in the path of each other, otherwise it would have been a base hit."
Despite the two missing RBI, Wright still had a strong weekend, coming in for relief of Loftin and Logan Smith in the final game of the weekend. Rockdale went behind 7-0 after 2 1/3 inning before Smith came in. Wright then relieved Smith for an inning, providing defensive stability as the bats fought Rockdale back into it.
"Jake was a little rusty but he pitched just one inning, only giving up one run," Murphy said. "He got a little work. I thought he had good velocity and everything."
The win not only showed Murphy that he has a solid option out of the bullpen in Wright but also that his team is willing to fight for wins.
"When you get down 7-0 like that in a seven-inning ball game and end up winning 13-8 showed a lot of fortitude and a not-giving up attitude, we're-going-to-win-the-game attitude and we came back and won the game. Sometimes you don't know how the guys are going to fight back."
Murphy said it was good to see that never-die attitude in a weekend that also showed him Rockdale had a strong offense and good mound presence from its top two pitchers. Matt Roberson took the mound in the season opener, throwing a shutout.
"I thought he did a pretty good job," Murphy said. "He felt like he could have done better but I don't know how you could have done better than not allowing a run, unless you no-hit them.
"I thought he really did well, especially since he hasn't seen live batting in about a month."
Ryan Knight pitched the second game, going five innings with just one run allowed.
Rockdale Post 77 plays its first away game today, in a nine-inning game at Loganville. Rockdale returns home Thursday for a nine-inning matchup against Douglasville at 6:30 p.m. and won't return home until June 16.
"We got some things done and we played a lot of players," said Murphy of the weekend's four wins. "We got to see what they could do and it was a good weekend for us."