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Rockdale A's drop third straight

NORCROSS -- Jared Breen was too much for the Rockdale A's on Monday.

The Signature Park Grizzlies shortstop and rising sophomore at Belmont University had three hits, including the go-ahead RBI single in the sixth inning of the Grizzlies' 8-7 win over Rockdale in a Sun Belt League game at Norcross High School.

Rockdale, the defending Sun Belt champions, dropped its third consecutive game and fell to 11-11 with three regular season games to play.

In a 5-5 game in the sixth, pinch-hitter Zack Kilday and Breen's Belmont teammate Greg Brody drew walks to chase right-hander Casey Shiver. Facing Allen Busenitz, Breen worked the count full, then fouled off three pitches before singling to center to chase home Kilday for a 6-5 lead. Busenitz struck out Craig Brisson and Parker Brunelle, but allowed Jay Page's two-run double to make it 8-5.

The two insurance runs turned out to be important as Rockdale got to within 8-7 on Alex Walker's two-run home run in the eighth. But the A's couldn't pull even in the ninth after former Heritage High School catcher Chunk Smith reached on an error and Dustin Dunlop (Salem) walked against right-hander John Butler. Tony Baker struck out swinging and Butler caught Walker looking to end the game.

"That's the way it goes when you're struggling," Rockdale manager Bill Dallas said. "We kept battling (and) we still came up short one. It's very, very frustrating."

Rockdale snapped a 3-3 tie in the fifth on Jeremy Boyd's sacrifice fly and an RBI-single by Blake Parrot, which ended the night of starter Wyatt Brown (42/3 IP, 7 H, 4 ER). Signature Park (12-11) tied the game a half inning later as Noah Hanley roped a two-run single off Shiver.

The Grizzlies took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first against Rockdale starter Jarius Rhodes. Dunlop dropped Brody's sinking liner at shortstop and Breen made it hurt, tripling to put the hosts up 1-0. Two batters later, Brunelle's ground out scored Breen for a 2-0 cushion.

Rockdale took its first lead with a three-run third. Trent Dooley hit a sacrifice fly, Brent Pugh mis-played Boyd's pop-up at third and Daniel Henley followed with a run-scoring single to put Rockdale up 3-2. Rhodes, who pitched 32/3 innings and got a no-decision, ran out of gas in the fourth and Signature Park pulled even on Brody's bases loaded walk.

"(Rhodes) was good early, got a little wild (and) had to go get him," Dallas said.