The Salem AAA All-Stars will open play in the Dixie League state tournament Friday while the O-Zone All-Stars were eliminated in their state tournament on Monday.
Salem’s AAA team, for 10 and under boys, will play in the 10-team state tournament at Blackstone, VA. Salem will represent District 7 and open at 8 pm Friday against Dinwiddie, the District 5 champion. If Salem wins Friday night the locals would play again Saturday at 8 pm, and if they lose Friday they would drop to the losers’ bracket and play again at 4 pm Saturday. The tournament is double elimination and runs through Wednesday, July 18.
Salem earned the right to represent District 7 by winning the district tournament in Vinton. Salem went undefeated through four games, beating North Roanoke and Vinton, twice, to reach the championship. Salem then defeated Glenvar on Tuesday of last week to avoid an “if” game and finish unbeaten in the district.
Salem’s AAA team is coached by Kendall Keffer, Josh Hale and Nathan Overstreet. Glenvar’s coaches were Daniel Summerville, Travis Shannon and Michael Williams.
Salem’s O-Zone team, for 12 and under boys, had won their District 7 tournament a week prior and participated in the state tournament in South Hill last weekend. The Salemites went 1-2 and were eliminated on Monday.
The tournament opened last Friday and Salem started strong with a 4-1 lead over Giles County in the third inning when torrential rain and lightning postponed all games for twenty-four hours. When play resumed on Saturday, Giles tied the game in the fourth inning and eventually won in the bottom of the sixth inning, 6-5, on a passed ball.
“Momentum was on our side when the rains came,” said Salem coach Chris Clemens. “The delay hurt us. That’s a game we should have won.”
Salem bounced back with a huge victory over Bedford on Sunday, winning 19-2. All 12 players batted three times and each had a hit for Salem’s rising 6th-7th graders. Caleb Furmage and Carter Black pitched in a game that ended after four innings because of the 12 run rule.
On Monday Salem drew Halifax County. Halifax took a one run lead in the first inning on a defensive obstruction call, but Salem responded with five runs, including a home run by Ryan Coe in the bottom of the first with Carter Black and Grant Clemens on base.
In the second inning, Halifax scored twice to close the gap to 5-3. Halifax scored another four runs to take a 7-5 lead through four innings. Wilson Rakes then connected on a solo home run in the fourth inning to get Salem within one, but Halifax held on to win 9-7 and eliminate the Salemites.
Coach Clemens said the boys were down following the game, but would likely bounce back before the parents would.
“They are a wonderful group of kids,” he said. “They will do Salem proud in middle school and high school baseball. Moreover, they will do their families proud throughout their lives.”
Clemens, Shawn Rakes, and Kevin Fletcher coached the team to an overall 5-3 record in All-Star competition.