The Salem High baseball team is off to a better start than coach Wes McMillan could have expected. After graduating eight of nine starters from last year’s lineup, the Spartans have won their first four games of the 2018 season.
“I never thought we’d be 4-0 at this point with wins over Byrd and Botetourt,” said McMillan. “With all the players we lost I was hoping for a .500 season.”
Salem won their fourth straight Monday with an 11-2 win over William Fleming in Roanoke. The Colonels aren’t known for having a good baseball team, but McMillan was impressed with Fleming pitcher Matt Eaton.
“He’s a good pitcher,” said McMillan. “He threw 81 or 82(mph) and he had real good location. We only had two hits off him in five innings and he struck out six.”
Unfortunately for the Colonels, when Salem made contact the Fleming defense was porous as usual. Most of Salem’s runs were unearned as the Colonels had trouble fielding the ball.
“They’re going to beat some people,” said McMillan. “They’re better than they’ve been.”
Brayden Overstreet started on the mound for Salem and picked up the win. He went four innings and didn’t allow an earned run, walking four. Trevor Gallagher pitched the last three innings for a save, allowing no runs and one hit while fanning three.
Offensively, Hunter Clifton led the Spartans with two hits and three runs batted in. Hunter was scheduled to start on the mound Wednesday with Salem hoping to host Patrick Henry in a game that was postponed Tuesday due to a wet field.
Salem is back home Thursday with Christiansburg coming to town. That will be a jayvee-varsity doubleheader, with the jayvees at 5 pm and the varsity to follow at 7:45 pm at Kiwanis Field. Zion Honaker will start on the mound for Salem against a stout Blue Demon team.
“That’s going to be a good test for us, they’re the real deal,” said McMillan. “We’re going to have to hit the ball a little better than we’ve been. We can play defense with anyone, but we have a lot of young kids who are going from that 75 mile per hour jayvee pitching to varsity pitching, and that’s a big adjustment.”
Salem is off next week for spring break.