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The boys of summer return
American Legion baseball begins this week
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The American Legion Post 77 2013 schedule:
June 4 vs. Douglasville 7 p.m.
June 6 at Douglasville 7 p.m.
June 9 vs. Alpharetta 2 p.m.
June 10 at Buford 7 p.m.
June 13-16 MIA Tournament
June 19 at Canton 7 p.m.
June 21-23 Classic at Albany
June 26 vs. Tuscaloosa 6 p.m.
June 29 at Dawsonville 2 p.m.
June 30 at Loganville 2 p.m.
July 8 at Alpharetta 7 p.m.
July 11 vs. Canton 7 p.m.
July 13 vs. Renegades 1 p.m.
July 14 at Peachtree 2 p.m.
July 16 vs. Buford 7 p.m.
July 18 vs. Loganville 7 p.m.
July 20 vs. Peachtree 1 p.m.
July 21 vs. Dawsonville 2 p.m.
July 25 State Tournament

The American Legion Post 77 baseball team begins its state championship defense Tuesday as the 2013 season gets underway.

Several players return from the team, which went 30-1 en route to a 12-4 title win over Douglasville last July, including Cole Hamilton, Jake Wright, Keith Buckhault, Daniel Jackson, Tyler Mahan, Cole Murphy and Drew Buckhault.

Wright was mainly an infielder for Rockdale last season, and this year will be called upon to pitch.

“Besides those guys, everybody else is brand new to the team,” Post 77 coach Jack Murphy said.

Some of those players, however, will be late returners, due to vacation and conflict issues, something Murphy and other American Legion coaches have to deal with annually.

“We’re just now forming our team up,” Murphy said. “We really don’t know what we have. Some of the areas, we’re going to be better and some areas, we’re not.”

One of those areas, which is still a mystery is pitching as that was the 2012 team’s strength — its pitching staff.

Offensively, though, Murphy said Post 77 will be pretty balanced when everybody is in attendance. Rockdale’s first practice was Friday night, and the team hits the field for an exhibition game against Loganville Sunday afternoon.

The regular season begins in Rockdale with a rematch of the state championship against Douglasville at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

“We’re going to step right into the fire when we get Douglasville here; from what I understand, they put together a real good team,” Murphy said.

Rockdale follows the home matchup against Douglasville with a road game against the same team Thursday, followed by returning home against Alpharetta June 9.

Post 77 has two tournament appearances set, at Douglasville’s POW/MIA Tournament June 13 and Albany’s AFLAC Classic June 21, before the state tournament begins July 25.

“We think we’re going to be competitive,” Murphy said.

Murphy won his first state title, in 2012, since taking over Rockdale in 1995. That propelled him and Post 77 to the  Southeast Region tournament in Sumter, S.C.

Wilmington Post 10 eliminated Post 77 with a two-run ninth inning for a 9-8 defeat on Aug. 9.

“That was an unbelievable season last year,” Murphy said.

Rockdale will look to get in a position to overcome that disappointing end, an end which could have been helped with some of its pitchers able to attend if Georgia schools didn’t return from summer earlier than other states.
That same lack of personnel is what Murphy is experience as this season gets under way, but it’s something he’s used to working around.

The 2013 runs through the end of July, with Rockdale finishing up with four straight home games. Buford comes to Rockdale July 16, followed by Loganville July 18, Peachtree July 20 and Dawsonville July 21.