Needham, Bailey lead Salem over Rockdale

CONYERS -- Rockdale had baserunners all evening against Salem starter Garrett Needham. But rarely did any of those runners touch the plate, allowing Needham and the Seminoles to keep up their recent dominance of their crosstown rivals.

Needham struck out 10 over 6 innings of one-run ball and a first-inning home run was all the Seminoles needed in a 3-1 victory in nonregion play.

Salem not only stayed unbeaten at 4-0, but won its fourth consecutive game against its county rival. The last Rockdale win in the series was in March 2011.

Needham fanned the first two batters of the seventh before Malachi Eskin worked a full-count walk, bringing an end to Needham's night after 109 pitches. Josh Webster relieved and though he gave up consecutive singles to load the bases, Austin Jewell struck out to end the game.

It took three batters in the top of the first for Salem to take the lead for good. Facing Eskin, Zach Bailey poked an opposite field, two-run home run down the left field line for a quick 2-0 lead.

That was all the Seminoles would get against Eskin, who settled in nicely after the home run. Eskin didn't allow a hit over his final 4 innings of work, and despite walking three batters, none came after the second and the right-hander retired the final 11 batters he faced.

Rockdale got its only run with two outs in the second. Jewell drew a leadoff walk and after a pair of infield outs, Yancey Freeny hit a dribbler in front of the mound and Needham fielded the ball to try to get Jewell at the plate but the throw was wide.

That made it a 2-1 game, but Rockdale stranded eight runners -- five in scoring position -- over the final five innings.

Rockdale also couldn't take advantage of a reversed call in the fourth. With one out, Freeny tried to bunt his way on base and was originally called out on a close play. After the umpires met, the call was reversed. Freeny stole second, but was thrown out trying to steal third by Salem catcher Reed Hill to end the inning.

Salem got an insurance run in the sixth. Bailey reached on an infield single, moved to second on a fielder's choice and to third on a throwing error. Tiwuan Head's bloop single chased home Bailey for a 3-1 cushion.

Both teams return to action Friday when Salem hosts Stone Mountain at 5:30 p.m. and Rockdale travels to Athens for a 5:55 p.m. game with Clarke Central.