CONYERS - Brandon Crumbley fanned eight banners after coming into the game in relief in the top of the third inning to lead Salem to a 4-2 come-from-behind win over Rockdale in a Region 8-AAAA baseball game Wednesday evening.
Playing before an enthusiastic home crowd, Crumbley relieved the Seminoles' starting pitcher, Logan Singleton, with runners on first and third and two outs. He promptly struck out Rockdale's J.T. Shaw to squelch the Bulldogs' opportunity to add to its 2-1 lead at that time.
The Seminoles scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to finally wrestle the lead from Rockdale, and Crumbley's powerful pitching made sure that lead stayed intact.
"We've been having a hard time finishing off games this year," Salem coach Chad Kitchens said. "But we were able to hold on to win."
The Seminoles, according to Kitchens, have lost seventh-inning leads several times this season in compiling a 4-5 record. The win over Rockdale gives Salem a 2-1 mark early in region play.
"Our trouble has been with the relievers, so I decided to start one and then bring on a regular starter and it worked out," Kitchen added. "That may be what we have to do for now."
Rockdale jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first when leadoff batter Ryan Conner walked and No. 2 hitter Nakeem Forte singled to put runners on first and second with no outs. Buck Farmer grounded out to the first baseman but advanced the runners before Kevin Dawkins drove a single up the middle to score both runners.
Salem cut the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the second when Cameron Gibson led off with a single, stole second and was plated by a hit from Wells Baldwin.
Salem broke things open in the bottom of the fifth with three runs when Cody Strange walked and was advanced to second when Jimmy Gerard beat out a bunt. Sticking to a good thing, Corey Womack bunted down the third-base line and reached on a throwing error that also scored Strange. It was the only error of the game.
The Seminoles added two more runs when Josh Bailey was given an intentional walk that loaded the bases for Crumbley, who responded with a long shot off the right-field wall that scored Gerard while Womack was thrown out at home plate. The final run for Salem was scored by Bailey when Gibson singled.
The visiting Bulldogs tried to rally but left a runner on third base in both the top of the sixth and the top of the seventh. Crumbley got key strikeouts in both innings to preserve the win for Salem. The loss drops Rockdale County to 1-3 in region play and 3-3 for the season.
"It was one of those games where we had our chances but left too many runners stranded," Rockdale coach Casey Martin said. "They made the key hits and we didn't and that was the difference in the game."