The Salem Seminoles varsity baseball team didn’t put together much offense Wednesday night on the road against Alcovy, but the Seminoles got enough in the opening inning to pick up a 4-2 non-region victory.
The Seminoles got a superb pitching performance from starter Rocky Mauriello, who shutout the Tigers through his first five innings of work, and Salem strung together four hits off of Alcovy starter Dalton Reagin, touching up the senior for four runs in the first frame.
Salem couldn’t add a run to the scoreboard after the first inning, while Alcovy tried to make a comeback bid with a pair of runs in the sixth, but the Seminoles’ early offense was enough to earn Salem's third win of the season.
“I can’t explain how we have come out the last two seasons again Reagin,” Salem coach Chad Kitchens said. “We got up on him early last season and did the same thing tonight. He dominated us from the second inning on, but we were fortunate in the first inning to pick up a few runs and get a big hit. That made the difference tonight.
“You won’t face many pitchers who are better than him throughout the rest of the season,” he said. “He’s a tough kid, and I’m proud of our kids for battling and getting a win tonight.”
Salem touched up Reagin early in the first, setting the tone against the Tigers’ starter. Lead-off hitter Ndiayemon Harrison fell behind 0-2, but battled back and forced a full count, fouling off pitch after pitch.
Harrison’s patience paid off as the sophomore reached base on a walk, giving the Seminoles’ their first base runner of the night. Yorel James pushed Harrison into scoring position on the Seminoles’ next at-bat with a bunt, and James was called safe at first after the Tigers’ throw over to the bag came a step too slow against the centerfielder.
With two men on and no outs, Salem’s Tiwuan Head blasted a double into the right centerfield gap, scoring Harrison and James. Jason Howell moved Head along to third on a flare that dropped just behind the infield, and Head stole home on a Tigers’ throw-down attempt to nab Howell at second base.
Trailing 3-0, Reagin settled down and forced a strikeout and a ground-out before Salem’s Cole Gibson added the Seminoles’ fourth run of the inning on a two-out double scoring Howell.
Mauriello had no problems with the ball in his hand, burning through the Tigers’ lineup with breaking ball after breaking ball over the first five innings. Mauriello gave up just a pair of hits over the first two innings while striking out three Tigers.
Despite Mauriello’s showing on the mound, Salem was unable to add to its early lead, as Reagin settled in and sat down the side in the second, third and fourth innings. Reagin struck out five batters after his early jitters, buying enough time for Alcovy to make a late comeback attempt.
Still trailing 4-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth, Alcovy strung together its best offensive performance of the night.
Brayden Ergle led off the Tigers’ charge, reaching base after Mauriello plunked him to start the inning. Ergle moved to second on a Brock Carter single, and Austin Richardson gave the Tigers’ their first run of the game on the ensuing at-bat, placing a perfect shot past the Seminoles' third baseman and shortstop.
Ergle touched home easily with the base knock, and Carter and Richardson moved into scoring position after the throw home.
A Marc Beddington sac-fly to left field allowed Richardson to score, but Alcovy’s Nanpon Ross grounded out to second, ending the Tigers’ scoring threat with Alcovy still trailing 4-2.
Mauriello sat the Tigers down 1-2-3 in the seventh, completing seven innings of work while allowing four hits, a walk and two runs while preserving the win. Mauriello finished with four total strikeouts.
Reagin picked up the loss on the mound, allowing four runs on four hits and two walks while striking out eight.
Head, James, Harrison and Gibson finished with hits for the Seminoles, while Richardson paced the Tigers with a 2-for-3 night at the dish.
Alcovy coach Ryan Denison said he liked what he saw out of the Tigers, but said they needed to get out to quicker starts against their competition.
“We have a real youthful team and we’ve come out kind of slow in our past few games,” Denison said. “Tonight, we came out slow again and picked up as we went on. It shows that our guys don’t give up, and I think if we could have started this game in
the fifth inning, we would have had more success.
“I am happy that we hit the ball tonight and put the ball in play; we just didn’t get the bounces we needed,” he said. “Sometimes the ball just doesn’t go your way.”
Alcovy returns to action Saturday on the road against Oconee County, while Salem hosts MLK on Friday at 5:30 p.m.