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Leesburg Post 182 eliminated

Photo by John Millikan

Photo by John Millikan

ALBANY -- Leesburg American Legion Post 182's rally from as many as seven runs behind Saturday was nearly complete in the eighth inning.

The door for a thrilling comeback victory seemingly open.

Then Cole Peeples slammed that door shut with a solo home run over the left field fence.

The Rockdale Post 77 first baseman's third hit of the day put the brakes on Leesburg Post 182's furious surge at the plate and gave his team an 11-10 win in the second round of the Georgia American Legion State Baseball tournament at Darton College.

Post 182 was knocked out of the double-elimination tournament Saturday night in a 16-0 loss in seven innings to Conyers Post 77.

The loss Saturday afternoon came a day after Rockdale Post 77 cruised to a 19-2 first-round victory over Albany Post 30 in which Rockdale scored 18 runs in the final three innings.

Peeples hit the game-winning homer with two outs on the heels of a successful Post 182 trick play in the top of the eighth to tie the contest at 10-10.

Ryan Good took off from first base and appeared to get caught in a pickle, distracting the Rockdale fielders while Will Wilson surged home from third to cap Post 182's game-long rally.

Post 182 coach Larry Cook said his team played well and lost it on a great at-bat by Peeples.

"You've got to give him all the credit in the world," Cook said. "He's a great hitter. We kind of kept him at bay all day, but he finally caught up and hurt us in the wrong situation."

Leesburg did most of its offensive damage in the top of the fifth inning, scoring five runs to cut Rockdale's lead to two. Shortstop Banks Kinslow got Post 182 going in that frame with his RBI double, one of his three extra-base hits and four total hits on the day.

Rockdale seemed to carry in the offensive momentum from Friday's win, notching six scores in the bottom of the third to grab an 8-1 lead and answering Leesburg the next inning to maintain a seven-run lead at 9-2.

It was then, after Rockdale's ninth run, when Cook brought in Casey James to pitch for Post 182. Things quickly changed for Leesburg in the field thereafter.

Rockdale's production at bat slowed against James, who allowed just two runs while Winslow and the Post 182 bats powered Leesburg back into contention for the win.

"We had two or three kids like Kinslow ... hitting the ball, but we just couldn't stop them early on," Cook said. "I think coming back, stopping them on the offensive side allowed us to loosen up with our bats and come back and compete a little bit."

One of those two runs allowed, though, was Peeples' winning run.

"(James) pitched his guts out, and to give up one pitch cost him," Cook said. "(Peeples) hit it. He hit it a ton, so we've got to give him credit, but Casey pitched a heck of a second half of that ball game and kept us in it."