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Salem uses long ball to top Clarke Central

CONYERS - The Salem Seminoles dialed up the long ball Monday, blasting two home runs in a 6-2 victory over Clarke Central in Region 8-AAAA play.

Salem (7-1, 5-1 Region 8-AAAA) got timely hitting throughout the lineup and left only two men on base.

Conversely, Clarke Central stranded 12 runners and was unable to take advantage of two bases-loaded scoring opportunities.

Salem coach Chris Davis was pleased at his team's performance, especially its hitting with runners on and knows that was the difference in the win.

"Our pitchers battled today and that's what they have to do when they don't have their best stuff," he said. "Everybody in this region is so tight, when you get somebody on, you have to get them across. You can't leave any runs out there, and our hitters did a good job of getting runners across when they got on."

Brandon Crumbley got things going for Salem in the third inning when he belted the third pitch he saw over the center-field wall for the game's first run. Dustin Dunlop singled with two outs and Drew Dentler knocked him in with a hard single to left, putting the Seminoles up 2-0.

Starting Seminole pitcher Jake Dyer cruised through the first three innings but ran into trouble in the top of the fourth. After a single and a walk, the Gladiators loaded the bases on a misplayed ball to third. But Dyer worked out of the jam, getting a pop up and a strikeout to end the threat.

Dyer helped himself in the bottom of the fourth as he led off the inning with a home run to right field. Dyer's shot stretched Salem's lead to 3-0 as the Seminoles headed into the fifth inning.

The Seminoles added two runs in the fifth off of RBI singles by Dunlop and Dentler, and one in the sixth on a two-out double by Crumbley.

Crumbley came in to pitch in the fifth and worked two scoreless innings, but things got interesting in the top of the seventh.

Down 6-0, Clarke Central managed to load the bases. Then with one out, Brad West laced a single into right-center to plate two runs.

Crumbley struck out the next batter but then walked the bases loaded for the second time in the inning. But with a full count, Crumbley fired a letter-high fastball for called strike three to end the game.

While Davis was clearly upbeat and happy about the win, he knows his team must work on closing out opponents if it is to keep up in the tightly contested region.

"We have to start putting together complete games," Davis said. "We've had mental lapses, physical lapses, and we just have to put together complete games. I have to get them ready to go seven innings. We have to work harder in practice. I'll take a win though. Any win is a good win."

Dyer went 2-for-3 and picked up the win, tossing four shutout innings while fanning three. Crumbley and Dunlop also each had two hits and an RBI for the Seminoles.