While Greenbrier High School’s baseball team was sweeping Marist Tuesday evening, the Wolfpack soccer team was putting away Starr’s Mill en route to a collision with Lambert Friday.
Last week, Marist put an end to playoff runs from Greenbrier’s girls soccer and tennis teams, and narrowly defeated the Lakeside boys in the AAAA state golf tournament.
But the tide turned Tuesday when Greenbrier’s Jordan Hunt and Austin Robinson pitched complete games to earn a two-game sweep of Marist. The Wolfpack will now play host to Whitewater High School Monday in the final four of the state AAAA baseball playoffs.
While the baseball team was putting away the War Eagles, nearby on the Greenbrier campus the soccer team was notching a 2-0 win against Starr’s Mill to set up a AAAA title run at Lambert (22-0) on Friday.
“We’ve always struggled being an Augusta school, when we get into the playoffs, playing the big Atlanta schools,” Wolfpack soccer head coach Chip Warren said. “We’ve played three of them now this year, beat every one of them pretty decisively. We know what the level of competition is going to be and you always wonder when you’re going to reach the top of the competition level and we’ve reached the top of the competition level.”
Warren and his Wolfpack will now attempt to do what no other Greenbrier boys soccer team has ever done.
The last time the Wolfpack were in a state final was 1999, the year before Warren became head coach, losing to Woodward Academy on a late goal.
“This is as far as we’ve been with this group,” said Warren, noting that the Wolfpack have been to at least the round of eight since 2005. “We’ve been trying to get over that hump and everything right now is icing on the cake, but by no means are we satisfied.”
While the seniors had just advanced to the quarterfinals previously, the win was big for eveyone.
“I’m so excited to go to the finals,” said sophomore Scott Ball. “It’s one of my goals to win a title and now I have a chance for a ring.”
The Wolfpack (20-1) had yet to give up a goal in the state tournament, so it was huge when they jumped out on top of the Panthers (18-2-2) on a James Toombs goal at 34:28 of the first half. Reed Norton sucked three defenders down to the left side of the goal and he was able to make the cross to Toombs in front who had to beat one defender for the score.
The Panthers entered the game ranked No. 3 in Class AAAA, one ahead of the Wolfpack, and started to play in the Wolfpack’s end near the 30-minute mark of the second half. That didn’t translate to many chances, though, as the Wolfpack defense did a good job of insulating goalie Zack Maxwell. Midway through the second half, the Panthers’ Justin Ross got deep on the left side, but Maxwell cut down the angle and handled the shot for one of his eight saves.
“Really, most of it is the guys on the defense,” said Maxwell, deflecting credit for his play.
The Wolfpack all but put it away with just over 11 minutes to play in the game. Ball crossed the ball from the right sideline to the left half of the field to Norton who blasted in the clincher.
Over on the diamond, Wolfpack catcher Taylor Glover led the way with three RBI as Greenbrier won the first game 7-2 before taking game two 5-3.
Hunt allowed two runs in the first on RBI hits from Anthony Sherlag and Michael Toner. However, he bounced back by striking out the side in the second, all looking, and it set the tone for the remainder of his outing. He gave up just two hits the rest of the way.
“I was nervous to begin with, but I was able to settle down and hit my spots,” Hunt said. “The second inning was a big confidence boost. It helped a lot.”
Greenbrier’s big inning came in the fourth when Clint Hardy drove in two runs on a triple, and he was driven home on a single by Glover. The three-run fourth gave the Wolfpack a four-run lead.
Greenbrier (28-2) added its seventh run in the sixth inning on another RBI single by Glover. He finished with three hits and three RBI. Hardy went 2-3 with a double, triple and two RBI.
“(Glover) has been awesome all year,” coach Chris Wilkins said. “He’s such a good hitter. He has a good eye for the strike zone, and it pays off when the pitcher has to fight in those at-bats.”
Six of Greenbrier’s seven runs in the first game came with two outs.
Hunt added to his day with the eventual game-winning run in the seventh inning of the second game. Hunt and Adam Grice each drove in a run to break a tie.
Robinson matched Hunt’s performance in the first game with a complete-game win, allowing three runs on eight hits.
He also followed a similar pattern as Hunt, allowing two early runs before settling in and giving up just one more run.
“He found a way,” Wilkins said. “He was emotional early, jacked up, and was living and dying with every pitch. But he settled down and did a fantastic job.”