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Pitching keeps Salem competitive
Braves take two local players in first-year draft

CONYERS - So far, a lot of Salem's summer season has been about starting pitching.

The Seminoles, off to a 3-2-1 start, have gotten a good start in five of their six games, with Gazzara Mitchell's two-inning, three-run effort Tuesday against Rockdale being the only blip on the radar.

In two wins over Rockdale last week, Jimmy Gerard went three scoreless innings and struck out four in an 11-1 victory (which preceded his one-run effort in a loss to Rockdale this week) and Mitchell matched him, firing three scoreless of his own in an 8-5 win. Salem tied Monroe Area later in the week as Jarrett Brown tossed five scoreless innings in a two-hitter. Levi Bonilla followed with five innings of two-hit ball in a 4-3 victory.

Meanwhile, the offense has been solid, averaging nearly five runs per game.

"The biggest thing I am happy about is our approach to the games - people are hustling, having a great attitude and playing as a team," said Salem coach Chad Kitchens said. "As long as we continue to do that, the wins will come. I think we have come a long way this summer in correcting all the things that kept us from being successful in the spring. Now, we have to show consistency and keep this up."

Conyers bats on fire

In Tuesday's doubleheader sweep of Loganville, the Conyers offense came alive. In 10-0 and 6-0 victories, Post 77 had 20 hits, including 12 for extra bases.

In the game one victory, ended in five innings by the mercy rule, five different players drove in runs, led by catcher Chunk Smith, who highlighted the opener with a three-run double. It was a similar story on the nightcap as center fielder Cameron Gibson (4-for-6, four RBIs in doubleheader) and catcher Taylor Jackson each hit a two-run home run and leadoff hitter Brandon Thomas had two of his three doubles.

"We feel like we can score some runs," Conyers coach Eddie Bagwell said afterwards.

New Level preparing

The New Level Training Cardinal, a summer team based in Conyers, is going to have plenty to do in June and July.

The Cardinal play in tournaments at Cleveland State University this weekend, in Rossville June 29-31 and at the Triple Crown Tournament in Alpharetta before playing in the ultra-competitive World Wood Bat Association 18-under National Championship June 30 through July 6.

The team consists of players from a number of different Georgia high schools, including Newton (recently graduated Chris Moss and rising senior Travis Rape) and Salem (former player Alex Yorkman). Players also come from Woodland, Stockbridge, Union Grove, Lithonia, Creekview, George Walton Academy, and independent christian schools Cumberland Christian Academy and New Covenant Christian School.

Braves pick two locals

The Atlanta Braves continued to dip into the local talent pool, selecting Perimeter College outfielder Robby Hefflinger with the 208th selection and Rockdale pitcher Buck Farmer with the 1,378th pick in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Hefflinger, who starred at Gainesville High School, was a seventh-round selection after hitting .324 with 11 home runs for Georgia Perimeter and was selected to the NJCAA East-Central All-District Team.

Despite being drafted, Farmer, the ace of the Bulldogs' 2009 team, is expected to honor his commitment to Georgia Tech.

Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at kurt.aschermann@rockdalecitizen.com