CONYERS - Salem's first loss of the baseball season was an ugly one.
Poor fielding and shaky pitching plagued the Seminoles as they were defeated Wednesday by visiting Madison County 8-2.
Salem (5-1 overall, 3-1 Region 8-AAAA) took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when T.J. Cash smashed a solo homer over the left-field fence and onto the track.
However, the Red Raiders sent eight batters to the plate in the top of the third and grabbed a 4-1 advantage.
The Seminoles cut into the Red Raiders' lead in the bottom half of the inning with an RBI single by Drew Dentler.
Salem starting pitcher Brandon Crumbley was pulled after the third inning. Crumbley allowed six hits and three earned runs.
Jake Dyer came on in relief and pitched well until the top of the sixth, when things began to unravel further for the Seminoles.
The Red Raiders sent nine batters to the plate in the inning and scored four more runs.
Salem spotted Madison Country a runner after making an error on the first batter of the sixth.
The next batter smacked a home run to center field and Salem was down 6-2.
Then, Salem committed another fielding error and Dyer issued two walks to load the bases.
With the bases full, Madison County hit a shot back to Dyer, but his throw was too high for Cash to tag out the charging runner from third base, putting Madison up 7-2.
The Red Raiders scored their last run on a fielder's choice, making the final score 8-2.
Salem coach Chris Davis said his team did not step up the way it needed to.
"We fell behind, then we didn't play sound defense," Davis said. "(Madison) puts the ball in play as well as anybody in the region. We didn't play defense behind our pitching. We also didn't hit the ball very well today. We just couldn't seem to get anything going offensively. We've got to be ready to play every game. These teams in the region are too good for us not to be ready to play every game."
Salem hits the field again Friday at Dacula.
Brandon Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.