The start of region play can be tough for any team. It can be even more difficult when the team is playing in sub-40 temperatures.
The Rome Wolves played under both conditions Tuesday, rallying late for a 5-3 win against Paulding County at Legion Field. First baseman Braden Hyde’s two-run single in the sixth inning gave Rome the victory in its first Region 7-5A game.
It certainly wasn’t the conditions Rome expects to play in the rest of the year, but it took the same fortitude coach Mike Dougherty wants from his team as the season moves forward.
“If you let the weather beat you, you’re going to get beat,” Dougherty said. “At some point you have to have some mental toughness, doesn’t matter if it is 98 degrees or 38 degrees. We just have to come out and play.”
Chandler Bridges started on the mound and went six innings with five hits and two earned runs allowed. Fellow senior Harrison Pyle notched two RBI singles early and then got the save when he came in for Bridges in the seventh.
It was far from Rome’s most perfect outing, with a few mistakes in the field leading to runs for Paulding County. But it was the home team’s composure in the final two innings that provided it with the victory.
The Wolves (8-5, 1-0 7-5A) began their sixth with a walk from Connor Ballard, and Jakolbi Griffin picked up two bases on a bunt single and a throwing error. All that set up Hyde’s base hit, bringing in Ballard and Griffin with ease.
Paulding County (7-7, 0-1) could only manage one hit in the top of the seventh, as Pyle handled three of the first four batters.
“You can be as skilled as you want to, but I’ll take the team with some toughness about them,” Dougherty said. “And for us it comes down to executing when you have to, and we showed that.”
Pyle knocked in Xavier Roberts on a line drive to left in the first inning, and Roberts made it 2-0 with an RBI single in the second. Pyle knocked in Garrard in the following inning to give him a solid night at the plate after struggling his last two games.
“I told Harrison everything we have accomplished in the first part of the season means nothing,” Dougherty said. “Every team is being told something similar because everyone has a chance to win a region championship.”
Rome continues its series against Paulding County today at 5 p.m. in Dallas.