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Prep Baseball: Salisbury falters

By Bret Strelow
Salisbury Post
TYRO ó Salisbury’s baseball team will play again Monday, but not at the preferred time.
The top-seeded Hornets fell 10-7 to fourth-seeded West Davidson in a CCC tournament semifinal Friday afternoon.
Salisbury (16-7) is scheduled to face Central Davidson at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, and the winner will receive either the league’s No. 2 playoff seed (if Ledford prevails in the 7 p.m. final) or the No. 3 playoff seed (if West Davidson swipes the second seed by pulling another upset).An uninspired effort against the Green Dragons (17-7) knocked Salisbury out of the running for the top seed, which goes to Ledford because it advanced the farthest of three teams that tied for the regular-season title.
“I don’t know how you can’t get up for a game like this,” Salisbury coach Scott Maddox said. “We were as flat as flat can be.
“We hit the ball good and didn’t really kick it around, but we didn’t make smart plays. We hadn’t done that all year. The only choice we’ve got is to regroup and get ready for Monday.”
Robbie Ijames (4-for-5 with three RBIs), Forrest Buchanan (3-for-4) and Russell Michalec (3-for-4) led an offense that registered 12 hits, but West Davidson became the first team to score more than six runs against Salisbury this season.
The Green Dragons posted four runs off starting pitcher Alex Britt in the first three innings, and a three-run bottom of the third pulled Salisbury within 4-3. Ben Ijames, the second of five Hornet hurlers, took the mound in the fourth and retired the first batter he faced. He then allowed five consecutive hits, including back-to-back home runs from Zach Burkhart and Alex Grubb that produced a 9-3 lead. Tempers flared after Ijames hit Chris Ivey with the next pitch, and Buchanan relieved Ijames.Robbie Ijames and Michalec also pitched for Salisbury.
“We let everybody pitch a little bit because it didn’t look like anybody was fooling them,” Maddox said. “There wasn’t any point in staying with one guy and letting him throw a bunch of pitches. When you let a team get hot like that and bring guys in there, they’re facing a big hill to climb.”
Maddox called on position players to pitch, and the only defenders who didn’t switch spots at some point were catcher Andrew Butler, left fielder Anthony Ijames and center fielder David Ijames. Dustin Dupre had stints at third base, second base and right field.
The Hornets trailed 10-5 before threatening in the final two innings.They loaded the bases for Britt, the cleanup hitter, with one out in the sixth. He flew out to short left field, and Ben Ijames grounded out.
Salisbury loaded the bases again in the seventh. Pinch-runner Philip Tonseth and Doug Seaman scored on a single by Robbie Ijames, and David Ijames represented the tying run as he stepped to the plate.
West Davidson pitcher Brandon Smith finished off a complete game by inducing a pop out to first base, and the Green Dragons picked up their first win in three meetings with Salisbury.
“What we’re doing now is a new season,” West Davidson coach Jerry Walser said. “What happened last season is over. It’s dead like the dinosaurs. All the pressure was on Salisbury because we can’t hurt ourselves. All we can do is better ourselves.”
Only the CCC’s first- and second-seeded teams will play at home in the first round of the playoffs, and West Davidson can jump from No. 4 to No. 2 with one more victory. That scenario, plus a Salisbury loss on Monday, would drop the Hornets to fourth for seeding purposes and force them to play at West Lincoln.West Davidson opened the league tournament Thursday with a 7-0 win against North Rowan, which used pitchers Billy Veal and Nick Smith in an attempt to quiet the Green Dragons’ bats.
“Each of the top four or five teams in the league has an M.O.,” Walser said. “Ours and Salisbury’s is hitting. We feel pretty good about how we’re swinging the bats, especially with the confidence we gained (Thursday) night. Billy Veal is no slouch, nor is Nick Smith.”
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Contact Bret Strelow at 704-797-4258 or bstrelow@salisburypost.com.

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