ATLANTA - After making the state playoffs in three of the past four seasons, the Salem baseball team is finally through to the second round.
The Seminoles advanced into the bracket of 16 on Friday by collecting a sweep of Lakeside-DeKalb at Wilson Field in Atlanta.
"We finally kicked the door down," Salem coach Chris Davis said of his team advancing past the first round.
The Seminoles jumped all over the Vikings in Game 1 and claimed a 6-1 win before having to rally for a 3-2 win in eight innings in Game 2.
Jake Dyer pitched a complete game in the opener, and except for an unearned run in the first inning, the Vikings hardly touched him.
Not only did Dyer fan nine batters in seven innings while scattering four hits, he didn't walk a single batter.
The pitching was just as potent in Game 2 as Brandon Crumbley, Dustin Dunlop and Stephen Brown combined for a one-hitter.
Crumbley got the start and pitched no-hit baseball for five innings. He also struck out seven batters.
"The starting pitching was great. Brandon and Jake, in both games, pitched their tail off," Davis said. "They were unbelievable."
In Game 1, the Seminoles fell behind 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning.
But in the top of the fourth, Crumbley erased the deficit with a two-run bomb over the fence in right field.
Later that inning, Salem increased its lead to 3-1 off an RBI single by Logan Singleton.
The Seminoles widened their lead further in the fifth. With runners on second and third and only one out, the squeeze play was on and Josh Bailey delivered. Not only did Bailey's bunt score the runner from third, but the Lakeside third baseman's throw to first was high, allowing the other run to score from second and giving Salem a 5-1 advantage.
The last run of the game came in the top of the sixth off an RBI single by Corey Womack.
Game 2 was not as easy for the Seminoles.
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fifth when Crumbley drilled his second home run of the series.
But Salem's 1-0 lead didn't last as Lakeside went up 2-1 in the top of the sixth.
Salem went quietly in the bottom of the sixth, but in the bottom of the seventh, Taylor Lamb delivered an RBI double that plated Bradley Moon and tied the game at 2-2.
In the eighth, Salem regained the last lead it needed on the day.
After Singleton doubled and advanced to third on a groundout, Drew Dentler stepped to the plate. Dentler hit a hot shot to the Lakeside shortstop, and it was too much to handle. The shortstop bobbled the ball and Singleton scurried home for the winning run.
"I think the big thing was that people stepped up in different situations. Whether it be baserunning, a clutch hit or a play in the field, it was somebody different each time," Davis said. "These were definitely team wins."
If one person did step up, it was definitely Crumbley.
Crumbley's home run in Game 1 gave Salem a 2-1 advantage, while his dinger in Game 2 put the Seminoles up 1-0.
But no hit was bigger on the night than Crumbley's two-out single to start the rally in the bottom of the seventh when Salem trailed 2-1.
"I was trying to take the ball the other way today, and that two-out single was huge," he said. "This (winning the series) was one of our goals. One goal was to make it to state and winning this series was another. Our next goal to keep going."
With the win, Salem advances to play East Paulding on Wednesday in Dallas.
Brandon Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.