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Freeman, West rout Salisbury


SALISBURY | A week that started with such promise for the Salisbury Hornets ended with a big thud Friday afternoon against West Davidson.

The visiting Green Dragons (6-2, 1-1) jumped on the Hornets early and often to roll to a 12-3 Central Carolina Conference win at Robertson Stadium. It was a complete turnabout from just three days earlier when the Hornets (3-6, 1-1) pounded West Davidson 10-2 in Tyro in their league opener.

In each instance, the outcome was really decided by quality pitching. Friday it was Green Dragon sophomore lefty Justin Freeman who kept the Hornets off stride with an effective mixture of off-speed pitches.

“Early on in the game, my changeup was really effective and I could get my curveball over for strikes when I needed to,” Freeman said.

He improved to 3-0 and had Salisbury shut out for 4 2/3 innings before giving up his first runs of the season. But he was glad to get a little payback.

“That loss motivated the team a lot,” Freeman said. “We worked really hard to get ready for them. Now we are ready to get things rocking in the conference.”

Over in the home dugout, the Hornets were just looking for someone to step up and take charge, especially on the mound. Four Salisbury pitchers gave up a combined 10 walks with nine of those runners scoring. Three fielding errors and four wild pitches added to the misery as they fell behind 8-0 after two innings and could never recover.

Salisbury coach Scott Maddox said this game was definitely decided by pitching.

“We have two guys who feel like they can get people out anytime they take the mound. “ he said, referring to Brian Bauk and Riley Myers. But Bauk is out with a sore back and Myers pitched the win over West on Tuesday.

“We just don’t have another guy that has decided he wants to step up and do the job right now,” Maddox said. “I thought we hit the ball fairly well tonight but we just dug ourselves too big of a hole.”

West Davidson’s running game got things started in the first off starter Parker McKeithan when Matt Berrier led off with a walk. Zach Queen stole a base and then advanced on a wild pitch leading to a quick 3-0 lead.

Salisbury’s Ryan Jones came on to pitch the second and got two outs after a lead-off error. But Berrier singled, then three straight walks made it 6-0. Graham Shoaf’s double to center then plated two more to make it 8-0 after two. Only three of the runs were earned.

“We were able to exploit the running game in the early going,” West coach Jerry Walser said. “I guess you could say it was a perfect storm for them today like it was a perfect storm for us last Tuesday.”



Walser also had praise for his lefty starter Freeman who scattered six hits and fanned six batters.  

“All in all Justin pitched very well,” Walser said.

The Hornets were two outs from an early finish in the fifth, down 11-0. But Bauk walked, then Chance Bowden singled hard to right and McKeithan reached on a fielder’s choice. Jones forced in a run with a walk off a tiring Freeman and then Jimmy Leone drove home two runs with a single up the middle to make it 11-3.

Queen came in to pitch the final two innings for West and preserve the win for Freeman.

Berrier led the winners with two hits and two RBIs. Queen and Shoaf also drove in a pair of runs. Salisbury was topped by Bowden with three hits while Bauk had two hits and three steals and Leone had two hits and his two key RBIs.