The Salem High baseball team clinched a spot in the Region 4A West playoffs with a win over Pulaski County in the Conference 24 semfinals Monday. Salem took a 6-1 win at Kiwanis Field.
With the victory Salem advanced to Wednesday’s championship game against Bassett. The Bengals are the top seed in the conference with a 19-2 record after shutting out William Byrd Monday, 3-0. They have a talented team.
“They have a catcher who’s going straight to pro ball,” said Salem coach Wes McMillan. “He’s 6’3” and about 215 and he’s hitting over .600. And they have some good pitchers.”
The game was scheduled to be played Wednesday night at Hooker Field in Martinsville, weather permitting. Hooker Field has an artificial turf surface and Salem has not played on turf all year.
“We’re going to practice on the field in front of the high school,” said McMillan. “Hopefully that will help.”
What won’t help is having shortstop Joseph Quinn out of the lineup. Quinn was sidelined when he suffered burns from a car radiator that exploded while he was working on it last weekend. Maryland-Eastern Shore coach Charlie Goens was at the game Monday to watch Quinn play, but all he saw was his replacement getting two hits and making two nice plays in the field.
With Quinn sidelined McMillan moved Riley Fox from third to short and put backup catcher Matt Wright on the hot corner. Wright singled in his first at bat, then lined an RBI triple over the rightfielder’s head his second time up for a key hit.
Meanwhile, Fox played a flawless shortstop and had three hits, including a leadoff double, while driving in two and scoring twice. Jacob Dodd also had two hits and Vincent Pinello had three runs batted in.
Trevor Austin pitched a complete game for Salem, scattering seven hits while fanning six. Austin worked out of a couple jams and Salem never trailed as the Spartans improved to 14-6 overall.
Freshman Zian Honaker was scheduled to start Wednesday’s game at Bassett. If Salem wins the conference the Spartans will get a first round home game in the regional, but they’re in the tournament regardless of the outcome.