The Salem Seminoles varsity baseball team dropped its second consecutive game to region foe Flowery Branch Wednesday, giving up three runs in the final two innings before falling 6-3 at home to the Falcons.
The loss drops Salem to 5-6 overall and 0-2 in region play a game after coming out on the wrong end of a 10-4 decision to the Falcons earlier this week.
Like a shipwrecked sailor marooned on an island, Salem spent much of the night stranded – leaving seven runners on base over the first five innings at the plate. Salem’s inability to score with men on base became its undoing, as Flowery Branch rallied in the sixth with the scored tied 2-2, plating a pair of runs on four hits in the frame.
“We had opportunities over the first five innings, but we just weren’t able to capitalize on them,” Salem coach Chad Kitchens said. “We made some self-inflicted mistakes on the bases that really hurt and we couldn’t come up with the big hits.
“By the time we got to the sixth inning and they brought their closer on, it was tough to score a run,” he said. “It’s a tough spot to be in knowing you have to score on him.”
With the score tied after five innings, the Falcons’ offense found some traction on the Seminoles’ muddy playing field. Flowery Branch designated hitter Dylan Gibeau led-off the inning with a solo home run to left center, clearing the fence and breaking the deadlocked contest.
Chad Kahlert singled after Gibeau’s homer and the left fielder scored four batters later, touching home on an Andrew Nolt single, doubling Flowery Branch’s lead.
Salem was unable to push across a run over the final two frames against the Falcons’ Jonathan Hughes. Hughes entered the game and blew fastball after fastball by the Seminoles, picking up the win and six strikeouts in just two innings of work.
The Seminoles’ Jordan Johnson picked up Salem’s only multi-base against Hughes, slapping a lead-off single in the sixth into right field. Johnson crossed the plate on a Hughes balk, but the righty didn’t allow another base runner after giving up an infield single to third baseman Cary Campbell, sitting down Salem’s final four batters via strike out.
Flowery Branch tacked on a pair of runs in the seventh, the first coming on a Cole Gibson balk and the last off a Kahlert sac-fly to center, securing the 6-3 final.
Tiwuan Head picked up the loss for the Seminoles, giving up six runs in six innings on 10 hits.
“Tiwuan had a great outing for us, but got a little tired at the end,” Kitchens said. “He got up there in pitches, but we’ve been facing some pitching injuries. Two of our main guys are down and when you only have a six to seven man staff and you lose two of them, it strains your rotation. We’ve been trying to stretch guys as long as we safely can, but he just kind of ran out of gas at the end. We couldn’t ask for anything more.”
After two scoreless innings, Flowery Branch struck first in the third. With one out, Nolt struck a screamer down the first base line that the Seminoles’ defense misplayed, allowing the right fielder to advance to third. A passed ball allowed Nolt to take home, giving Flowery Branch a 1-0 lead. Hughes reached base on the Falcons’ second base hit of the inning and a second Seminole passed ball allowed him to touch home, doubling Flowery Branch’s lead.
Salem answered in the bottom of the frame, loading the bases on a hit batter, an infield single and a walk. With one out, Gibson sent a hard liner down the third baseline. The Falcons’ were able to knock it down, but deflected it past their dugout, allowing Ndiayemon Harrison and Yorel James to score, evening the scoreboard.