Seminoles sweep Rockdale on diamond

Last season was a disappointing one for the Salem baseball team. But thanks to a sweep of rival Rockdale, the Seminoles are feeling a lot better about themselves in 2012.

Salem scored 10 runs in the first inning and cruised to a 15-4 win in five innings over Rockdale on Wednesday, two days after beating the Bulldogs 10-1.

The win secured a spot in the upcoming Region 8-AAAA playoffs for Salem (7-12, 5-5), which is trying to return to the Class AAAA state playoffs for the second time in three seasons. It also helped erase the memory of a 2-8 start.

"I think this win goes a long way to erase that terrible start. We've taken a step in the right direction," said Seminoles coach Chad Kitchens. "A lesser team would've quit, this team responded (and) consequently now are playing the best baseball of the season. We're not satisfied, but it's a big accomplishment."

In the bottom of the first, the first 10 batters reached base safely for the Seminoles. Facing starter and losing pitcher Tyler Page and reliever Kaleb Nieddu, the hosts got run-scoring singles from Jake Rich, Cole Gibson and Zach Bailey, while Rockdale helped with a pair of errors and four walks from Page and Nieddu.

"That was great," Kitchens said of the first inning. "We were patient, couple big base hits."

Adam Hood was the beneficiary of the run support as the right-hander allowed three earned runs in four innings.

"I thought he gutted it out (and) gave us enough," Kitchens said of Hood.

Rockdale, which has been outscored 38-8 during a three-game losing streak and dropped to 6-12 and 3-9 in region play, travels to Apalachee tonight at 5:30 p.m. Salem heads to Flowery Branch for a 5:55 p.m. game.