The Seminoles beat the Raiders 11-1 back in March, but after barely beating Monroe Area, and then getting blown out by Madison County the day before, the Raiders might have thought they had a chance this time around. If so, they thought wrong.
Salem shutout Habersham 11-0 and did it in just five innings. John Muirhead pitched his first career no hitter while walking three (including a hits batsman).
"John [Muirhead] has pitched against them [Habersham] twice this year and he beat them both times," said Salem coach Chad Kitchens. "That's hard for a pitcher to do, but he's done it, and he dominated both times. He's really come out of nowhere this year and done a good job for us.
"He's undefeated (5-0). Without him we wouldn't even be in the playoff race this year. So, he's been huge for us."
While Muirhead worked on the shutout the Salem hitters worked on the blowout.
It didn't take long for the Seminoles to strike. In the bottom of the first, Wells Baldwin led off with a hard hit to the wall that earned him a double and then Jimmy Gerard followed up with a single. With men on first and third, big Brandon Crumbley came up to bat next, but, instead of using power to score, the Seminoles used a little trickery. Gerard took off toward second base looking to steal and got himself caught in a pickle between the bases and the pitcher. This was exactly what coach Kitchens had in mind, because while the Habersham pitcher was focused on Gerard, Baldwin made his way toward home plate. The Raiders finally figured it out and threw home, but by that time it was too late. Baldwin scored at home and Gerard still made it safely to second base. Then, to make matters worst Crumbley, was still up to bat, and he smacked one deep, driving in Gerard for another run, and giving Salem a 2-0 lead.
After that, things just continued to get worse for Habersham. Muirhead dominated on the mound while he and the rest of Salem's lineup dominated at the plate.
Cody Strange led off the second inning with a solo homer, giving the Seminoles a 4-0 lead. In the fifth inning, Salem added three more runs.
Cameron Gibson led off with a walk and then stole second base. Logan Singleton then drove him home by hammering the ball to left field for the RBI single. Bradley Moon courtesy ran for Singleton at first and stole second before Kelsey Rudolph pushed him home with another RBI single. Cody Davis then doubled to left field, and with runners on second and third, Strange hit the ball deep for the sacrifice fly, scoring Rudolph. After the inning was over Salem was on top 6-0.
The Seminoles had their best inning in the fourth where they scored their remaining five runs. Habersham brought in a new pitcher, but he would have been better off staying on the bench. Crumbley reached first after being hit by the pitch and Gibson reached first thanks to an infield error. With two men on and Singleton at bat, Kitchens called for the hit and run, and it worked out even better than he planned. Singleton hit an easy grounder, but the second baseman made a terrible error, and Crumbley rounded third and scored while Gibson and Singleton arrived safely at second and third base. Another sacrifice fly, this time by Rudolph, scored Gibson and then a balk by the pitcher moved Singleton down to third. Davis was the next batter, and dropped a blooper into shallow left which scored Singleton. Then Strange hit a double which advanced Davis to third base and Muirhead finished the drill by knocking one past the short stop for the eleventh and final run of the game. Muirhead closed it out in the top of the fifth inning securing the no hitter and the 11-0 victory.
"Today we played the way I envision us playing," Kitchens said. "I think this was the first time this year we put together a complete game. We played great defensively, John [Muirhead] had a nice game... and we swung the bats pretty well too. We got smoked yesterday [against Madison Co.], and I think that had a lot to do with the way we played today. I think it always helps you get refocused when you lose a game like that."
Salem will play their next game Monday against cross county foe Rockdale.