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Prep Baseball: Salisbury seeded third for playoffs

By Mike London
Salisbury PostTYRO ó Intense shortstop Robbie Ijames got a rare opportunity to swing at a fastball near the plate and scattered squirrels in the trees beyond the left-field fence at Feezor Field with an absolute lightning bolt.Ijames continued a historic season, but Central Davidson sluggers Zack Briggs and Chaz Frank had him outnumbered. Briggs, an Appalachian State signee, and Frank, a junior committed to North Carolina, combined to go 6-for-7 with six RBIs on Monday. The Spartans outslugged Salisbury 10-6 to take the CCC’s No. 2 seed for the state playoffs.
The home run by Ijames, a junior with quick feet and quicker wrists, was his eighth of the season and his 100th career base hit for the Hornets.
Ijames raised his batting average from .554 to .558 ó no easy task ó with a 2-for-3 day.
“That homer Robbie hit ó my gosh, that ball was just smoked,” Central Davidson coach Jonathan Brown said. “It’s no secret to anyone how good Briggs and Frank are, but Salisbury’s got some guys that can swing it about as well as anyone you’re gonna see.”
The Hornets (16-8) are swinging, but flinging is an issue. In two CCC tournament appearances, Salisbury hurlers yielded six homers and 20 runs to Central and West Davidson. The Hornets tied Central and Ledford for the regular-season championship, but they’ll carry a No. 3 seed and a three-game losing streak into a first-round playoff game at East Lincoln on Friday.
“We’d lost three in a row going into the playoffs last year and still made a good run, so we’re still OK,” Salisbury coach Scott Maddox said. “We wanted to win today and we tried hard to win today, but in the end we didn’t really lose much. If we’d played as uninspired and lifeless as we did last week I’d be really worried, but we showed some spunk. We didn’t kick it around. Those guys over there just hit it.”
And hit it. And hit it. And hit it.
Central (16-8) blasted seven extra-base blows, including two bruising bombs by Briggs. Briggs, Frank and Jordan Hedrick all launched homers in the top of the third against David Ijames as Central, which fell 12-2 in a semifinal against Ledford, jumped to a 6-2 lead.
“Usually I don’t see anything much to hit, and I’ve really been struggling, but I saw a few more fastballs today,” Briggs said. “We all wanted to come out and make up for the Ledford loss, but everyone has a screw-up game once in a while.”
Salisbury’s had a couple of screw-up games lately, and Maddox didn’t start two of his senior standouts ó Alex Britt and Ben Ijames ó in an effort to shake things up.
Britt has pitched well all spring, but he’s slumped with the bat. He broke out with a 3-for-3 night off the bench and reached 100 hits for his career.
David Ijames had three of Salisbury’s 12 hits. Russell Michalec scored twice, and Doug Seaman produced an RBI double.
The Hornets got as close as 7-6 in the bottom of the fifth, but Brown used ace Trevor Leonard to relieve Frank. Leonard calmly nailed down the last nine outs.
“Anytime we play, we’re going to do everything that is in our power to win a ballgame,” Brown said.
David Ijames figures the Hornets are ready to start winning again.
“Central’s pretty good,” he said. “But we didn’t come out flat. We were swinging aggressively again.”

Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or mlondon@salisburypost.com.

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