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Salem improves to 9-2 in region

CONYERS - The Salem baseball team improved to 9-2 in Region 8-AAAA on Friday as it held on to beat the Rockdale Bulldogs 7-5.

The Seminoles (11-2, 9-2 Region 8-AAAA) struck for five runs in the top of the third inning as they strung together six straight hits off Rockdale's ace Buck Farmer.

Farmer threw strikes all evening, but three misplayed balls in left field aided in Salem's big inning as the Seminoles seemingly found every hole in the Bulldogs' defense.

"He (Farmer) kept doing what he was supposed to do. He kept throwing strikes," Rockdale coach Casey Martin said. "As a pitcher at this level, you have to keep the ball over the plate. You can't strike everyone out, and he knows that. But we weren't where we need to be defensively behind him."

Rockdale (6-6, 5-6) jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning after Nakeem Forte singled and stole three bases to plate the first run. Salem intentionally walked Farmer, who scored on an RBI single by Jay Shirley.

Salem's Logan Singleton doubled to open up the third, but Farmer retired the next two batters and looked poised to get out of the inning. But Corey Womack and Drew Dentler promptly singled to drive in two runs and tie the game.

Jake Dyer followed with and RBI double then scored after a Jonathan Brewer single. Josh Bailey and Stephen Brown kept the hits coming, knocking in the fourth and fifth runs of the inning with singles.

Farmer finally got Singleton, who started the inning, to ground out to end the inning.

"I'm really proud with our guys' effort at the plate today," Salem coach Chris Davis said. "The guy (Farmer) throws hard and you have to just stay in and meet it. Our guys did that and I'm very proud."

Every player in Salem's starting lineup had at least one hit as the Seminoles exploded for 14 overall.

"I have to give Salem credit. They just hit the ball," Martin said. "They (Salem) knew if they wait to hit the ball against Buck, they're not going to be very successful, so they jumped on him and put the ball in play."

Salem tacked on runs in the fourth and fifth innings to push its lead to 7-2.

Rockdale pinch-hitter Marquize Warren hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth to close the gap to 7-3, but the Bulldogs failed to score in the fifth after leaving the bases loaded.

Farmer hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh and Rockdale managed to get the tying runners in scoring position with one out. But Kevin Masters lined into a game-ending double play, and the Bulldogs came up just short yet again.

"We hit the ball early and we hit the ball late, and we didn't do anything in between," Martin said. "That's kind of been the story of our season. We do stuff early and we do stuff late. We have to find a way to fix that."

Davis knows his team went up against a good pitcher and needed to be aggressive in order to get to the Rockdale right-hander.

"We had a plan. We went up there and executed tonight," added Davis. "When you make the other team make plays, hopefully, eventually the ball will start falling through or you may force them into making errors. It's all about forcing the other team to stop you and I'm really proud of our guys for doing that."

Dustin Dunlop went 3-for-4 for the Seminoles, while Dyer, Brewer and Bailey each had two hits apiece.