CONYERS - In conditions more suited for hockey, the Salem baseball team opened its 2008 campaign with an 18-8 victory in five innings over visiting McIntosh at a chilly Henson-Carr Legion Field on Wednesday night.
"It was definitely cold. The one thing we talked about before the game is that it's cold for everybody," Salem coach Chris Davis said. "You can't use it as an excuse. If nothing else, it'll make you mentally tougher."
In fact, Salem showed a little mental toughness early on after the Chiefs roughed up starting pitcher Jake Dyer for three runs in the first inning.
In a theme for the whole game, the Seminoles scored runs in the bunches, striking for four in the bottom of the first to retake the lead. T.J. Cash delivered a two-run double after Salem plated its first two runs on a balk and a wild pitch.
In the bottom of the second, Jonathan Brewer and Dyer sandwiched sacrifice flies around an RBI single by Drew Dentler, increasing the lead to 7-3.
Brandon Crumbley's solo home run down the right-field line highlighted the Seminoles' three-run third. Brewer added an RBI double and Dustin Dunlop chipped another sacrifice fly.
Salem broke the game open in the bottom of the fourth with eight runs. Dunlop and Brewer belted two-run doubles, while Nick Woodward produced an RBI single. The other three runs scored on a dropped fly ball in the outfield and a wild pitch.
"Offensively, I was pleased," Davis said. "You always worry about the first game of the season and how you're going to hit the ball. Overall, I was pleased with how we put the ball in the play and put pressure on them. We've still got some things to work."
Brewer led the way with two doubles and four RBIs, while Dunlop finished with three RBIs. Eight different Seminoles drove in at least one run and eight had at least one hit.
On the mound, Dyer settled down after the rocky first inning and regained his usual form, tossing a scoreless second and third frames to pick up the victory. He retired the last eight batters he faced, notching five strikeouts.
Stephen Brown came on in relief and worked the fourth and fifth innings, surrendering four runs.
"Jake struggled in the first inning and got behind guys," Davis said. "In the second and third innings, he got ahead. I'm extremely pleased with how we handled adversity, Jake and the team.
"Jake and Stephen both have to pitch ahead (of the batters). Everybody is a good hitter when they've got a 2-0 count."
The Seminoles complete the nonregion portion of their schedule today against Eagle's Landing Christian Academy in McDonough. That game was rained out Tuesday.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.