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Salem baseball keeps winning big

LITHONIA -- So far in 2013, it's been difficult slowing down the Salem baseball team. Alex Fernatt and Garrett Needham each homered and the Seminoles made short work of Lithonia in a 17-0 win in four innings Friday.

Salem moved to 7-0, continuing the program's best start since the 2008 final four team began 9-1.

"It's been a good start and their approach has been consistent, but it can get better," said Salem coach Chad Kitchens, whose team is averaging 14 runs per game.

Fernatt hit a three-run home run and Needham added a two-run shot to pace the red-hot Seminoles' offense, which scored 54 runs in three games this week. Akil Baddoo added three hits and three RBIs and Tiwuan Head had a pair of hits and drove in a run.

"We're swinging the bats extremely well," Kitchens said.

Jason Howell was the beneficiary of the offense, tossing 3 innings of hitless ball to get the victory. Salem gave up just a single in four innings.

"I'm pleased with the progress we've made," said Kitchens. "We're still hitting (opponent's) pitching so that's encouraging. I'm real pleased with our pitching so far, and our defense has been good."

Salem looks to remain unbeaten when it hosts county rival Rockdale Monday at 5:30 p.m. The Seminoles will try to complete the series sweep against Rockdale after winning 3-1 on Feb. 27.

Luella 6, Rockdale 4

CONYERS -- Rockdale dropped its second consecutive game to open Region 2-AAAAAA play as Luella scored two runs in the top of the ninth to win 6-4.

Kaleb Nieddu had pitched well in relief, tossing three scoreless innings and striking out eight before the visiting Lions scored twice off the right-hander on a double and passed ball. Rockdale starter Malachi Eskin received a no-decision after pitching 6 innings of three-run ball.

Austin Jewell and Tyler Page each drove in two runs to pace Rockdale, which fell to 3-5 overall.

Heritage dropped its third consecutive game and fell to 1-6 with a 9-2 loss to Redan Friday. The Patriots, giving a number of freshmen and sophomores plenty of playing time (nine seniors graduated from the 2012 team), made five errors in the final two innings, turning a 4-2 deficit into a seven-run defeat.

"That's the way it's been for us -- five errors in the game, all in (the) last two innings, it opened the floodgates for them to score a bunch of runs on us," Heritage coach Jason Borcherding said. "This year is kind of going to be one of those years for us, it's kind of a rebuilding year, especially after we graduated nine seniors. We've been in every single ballgame, (but) we find ways right now to lose games instead of winning them."

Heritage will try to snap the losing streak when they host Arabia Mountain at 5:55 p.m. Monday.

Soccer

CONYERS -- The Salem soccer teams swept Cedar Shoals on Friday in Conyers. The girls got the second goal of the night from Hannah Watkins late in the second half to knock off the visiting Jaguars 3-2, while the boys got a 3-0 shut out in the nightcap.

In the girls opener, Watkins scored her first goal with 30 minutes to play to give the Seminoles a brief 2-1 cushion, but Cedar tied the game 10 minutes later.

With 15 minutes left, Catarina Sanderson found Watkins for the game-winner. Sydney Youngblood scored the first goal of the game with 35 minutes to play in the first half and Cedar tied it at the 20-minute mark.

Sydney Booker had 12 saves for Salem, which improved to 2-3-1 overall and 1-2 in Region 8-AAAAA.

The boys got goals from Rico Pope, Andrew Maxwell and Kevin Miranda, and keeper Kai Uchimura made it stand up with the Seminoles' fourth shut out of the season.

"Uchimura did an excellent job in goal," said Salem coach Kurt Peters, whose team moved to 4-2 overall and 1-2 in league play. "It was a nice victory."

Both Salem teams have plenty of rest before returning to the pitch Friday against Gainesville.