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Prep baseball: South Stanly tops Salisbury, 7-1

By Dave Shaw

david.shaw@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Nobody hit the panic button Monday night at Robertson Stadium.

Yes, Salisbury High’s baseball team had that early-season smile wiped off its face by visiting South Stanly. And yes, the Hornets have suddenly lost the hitting touch that lifted them to three season-opening victories. But the best thing about their 7-1 non-conference loss was that it opened their eyes.

“I just told the guys, we’ve just got to come back and go to work,” coach Scott Maddox said after Salisbury slipped to 4-2 overall. “They can see that we’ll be ok. We’ve just got to hit the ball better. It all boils down to that.”

Salisbury has scored only three runs in its last three games after being muffled by South Stanly’s top three pitchers. The Hornets managed only three singles against left-handed starter Easton Horton, winner Dillon Starnes and closer Sawyer Lee.

“We always pride ourselves on pitching,” winning coach Terry Tucker said after South squared its record at 2-2. “We work so hard to prepare before the season. Our pitchers know what’s expected of them.”

Salisbury starter Ryan Jones matched Horton for three scoreless innings before he floundered in the top of the fourth. The senior right-hander issued a leadoff walk and a wild pitch before retiring South’s next two batters and inducing Trey Frick to loft a high fly ball to shallow left field. “(Jones) was very close to getting out of it,” said Salisbury catcher Will Steinman.

But instead of escaping unscathed, Salisbury became unglued. Frick’s popup fell between shortstop Riley Myers and left fielder John Yang when both players stopped pursuing it, delivering the game’s first run.

Jones then yielded a line drive single to right and back-to-back walks, forcing home South’s second run. With the bases still loaded, Luke Burris roped a three-run triple into the right-field corner to crack the game open, chasing Jones and giving the guests a five-run inning — all produced with two outs.

“We’ve just got to communicate better and make plays,” said Steinman, who legged out an infield hit in the Salisbury sixth inning. “Maybe we weren’t ready to play. Our minds weren’t in the right spots. We walked too many people. We let balls fall in.”

Harrison Smith had Salisbury’s first hit when he bounced a two-out single up the middle in the bottom of the second frame. And Jones steered a base hit through the right side an inning later but was erased on an attempted steal. Teammate J.T. Austin scored the Hornets’ only run on a sixth-inning wild pitch.

“We kind of gave it away tonight,” Myers said afterward. “We didn’t get beat. We gave them opportunities and they capitalized. The thing is, we’ve been playing well so far — and 4-2 is not bad. It’s better than nothing.”

South Stanly     000  511   0 — 7 7 2

Salisbury           000  001  0 — 1 3 3

WP: Starnes (1-1)

LP: Jones (1-1)

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