CONYERS - Salem baseball coach Chris Davis knows his team needs to develop a couple key ingredients to have a successful campaign in Region 8-AAAA this spring.
On Thursday night, the Seminoles (3-0) made progress in a several of those key areas, blanking visiting Jackson County 7-0 in their Region 8-AAAA opener.
"I was pleased with the pitching," Davis said. "The key (in the region) is going to be pitching and defense; that is what's going to win. There's going to be times when you don't hit the ball. Their pitcher did a great job tonight. He got in a good rhythm in the middle of the game, and we struggled. But our pitching and defense kept us where we were until we got some key hits together. We need that every day."
On the mound, Davis is looking for some pitchers to fill in the roles behind senior ace Jake Dyer.
Seniors Brandon Crumbley and Stephen Brown stepped to the forefront against Panthers, combining for a four-hit shutout.
Crumbley worked the first 42/3 innings to get the victory, allowing just one hit and two walks while registering eight strikeouts. He was sharp until issuing walks to the final two batters he faced.
Brown tossed the final 21/3 innings in relief and maintained the shutout by working out of a runners on second and third jam with two outs in the top of the fifth. He allowed three hits and did not issue any walks.
"Up to those last two batters, Brandon did a great job for us. He just sort of hit the wall," Davis said. "Before that, he pitched ahead and kept the ball down. Stephen was the same as Brandon. He threw strikes and got ahead of the batters."
Offensively, Jonathan Brewer continued to provide a spark from Salem's No. 2 spot in the lineup. His RBI double in the fifth ignited a five-run inning for the Seminoles.
"That two hole is big," Davis said. "Our guys in the middle of the order, they were here last year. Folks know who they are, so there not going to get a lot (of pitches) to see sometimes. Production in the two spot will make them better hitters."
Leadoff hitter Dustin Dunlop also had a strong game for Salem, going 3-for-4 with a double and two runs.
In fact, Dunlop led off the bottom first with a single off the third-base bag and scored on Drew Dentler's double to center field. Jake Dyer plated Dentler with a sacrifice fly.
In the fifth after Brewer's double made it 3-0, Dentler knocked in his second run on a groundout. Dyer followed with an RBI single and scored on Crumbley's double. T.J. Cash's single pushed across the final run.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.