There may not be a tougher baseball region in the state than Region 8-AAAAA as six of the 10 teams currently have a .500 or better record on their resume. The Salem Seminoles know the grind more than anyone after coming off a win against then-undefeated Gainesville to then play a two-game series against Winder-Barrow, who is also a top team in the region.
The Seminoles didn't get the result they wanted on Friday as they lost game one at home 5-3. But, they responded tremendously well with a 5-0 win at Winder-Barrow on Monday evening.
In the first game, Salem gave up eight hits and committed four errors that led to the win for Winder-Barrow. It started in the top of the second for the Bulldogs as a Salem error got a runner on base then Zach Dyum hit a single that advanced the runner. Finally, Tyler Hamrick knocked a ball out the park for a three-run homer that gave Winder-Barrow the lead. Salem did respond in the bottom of that inning with a sac-fly by Akil Baddoo. But, the Bulldogs went on to score a run in the next two innings, and took control of the game from that point.
"We played a little flat," Bobby Link, Salem Seminoles' head coach, said. "We can't ride the emotional roller-coaster."
Salem pitcher Jordan Johnson dominated game two for the Seminoles as he pitched a complete game and gave up only two hits. The scoring opened up in the third inning as a lead-off walk and a successful bunt got two runners on base for Salem.
Then, senior Yorel James hit a sac-fly to center field that scored a run. In the following inning, three more runs were scored for Salem by two Winder-Barrow errors and a RBI-single from Braxton Hogan. The Seminoles scored their final run in the sixth inning and left the Bulldogs scoreless in game two.
"It keeps us in the race," Link said. "We just need to get over that little hump and win a few in a row here."
Salem, carries an 11-5 record and a 5-3 region record, which in most regions would probably be at the top of the standings, but they're currently outside the playoff picture sitting in fifth place. They have a two-game series coming up against Flowery Branch (12-4, 7-3) that starts at Salem on Wednesday evening.
Salem has a solid team and has pretty much been in every game they've played in, but they must find their stride quickly to compete in this very tough region. The Seminoles still have two tough series against cross-town rival Heritage and Loganville down the road.
Link said, "In this region you have to come to play every night and you can't let up."