Not a bad Thursday afternoon for a guy who wasn't even on the pitching staff in 2008.
Salem right-hander John Muirhead dominated over five no-hit innings in an 11-0 win over Habersham Central. Murihead walked two and hit a batter in a 62-pitch gem and was aided by a potent offense that helped Salem (10-9, 8-5 Region 8-AAAA) rebound from a 10-0 loss to Madison County on Wednesday.
"I've come close earlier in the season," Muirhead said of his near no-hitters. "Feels very good."
Muirhead, who defeated Habersham Central for the second time this season, once again impressed Salem coach Chad Kitchens.
"(It is) tough to beat a team twice; he's done a good job," Kitchens said. "He's really come out of nowhere, he didn't pitch at all last season. Without him we're not in the playoff race. He's been huge for us."
After Muirhead's five-pitch first inning, the Seminoles' bats got going right away. Wells Baldwin and Jimmy Gerard started the bottom of the first with a double and a single, then worked a double steal for the first run. Brandon Crumbley's ground out made it 2-0.
Cody Strange belted a solo home run to start the second and Logan Singleton, Kelsey Singleton and Strange drove in runs in the third to put Salem up 5-0.
It was more than enough for the efficient Muirhead, who improved to 5-0.
The senior stranded a runner in scoring position in both the second and third innings, then retired seven of the final eight batters he faced to complete his first career no-hitter.
The Seminoles added five runs in the bottom of the fourth as Rudolph drove in his second run of the game and Muirhead helped his own cause with a two-out, two-run double.
"I was (happy with the offense) today," Kitchens said. "The whole week we played like crap; today we hit the ball. We got smoked yesterday (and) it had a lot to do with how we played today."
Habersham Central (3-13, 3-8) starter Taylor Wright, making his first varsity start of the season, allowed six earned runs in three innings pitched.
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org