On a night when freshmen played a key role, it was Evans High School junior Josh Roye who needed just one pitch to send the Knights to the second round of the GHSA Class AAAA state baseball tournament.
After winning the first game of the first-round doubleheader against Northside-Warner Robins 4-2, Roye came in for starter Tyler Roberts in the bottom of the seventh of the second game with the bases loaded and two outs. He got a one-hopper to third to escape the jam and save Roberts’ 4-3 win.
“Everybody contributed,” Knights head coach Ricky Beale said. “We had a couple of key hits and made some solid defensive plays, and everybody all around had a hand in it.”
In the first game, freshman starter Kyle Anderson (6-2) was impressive on the mound. He gave up two runs on two hits in the third inning, but had the Eagles off balance the rest of the way. He was especially dominating through the fourth and fifth innings when he struck out five in a row en route to nine for the game.
“The most important thing is that I have belief that the team can play behind me,” Anderson said. “Look at the scoreboard; no errors.”
Knights freshman second baseman Raekwon Bennett was perfect in three trips to the plate, including a double. He knocked in the eventual winning run in the fifth inning after scoring the tie run in the fourth inning on a Brice Harrison sacrifice fly.
“I just kept my hands loose and rapped what they threw me,” said Bennett, who said it was big for a freshman to win two state playoff games.
Jeremy Clements led the Knights (16-10) with five hits on the night, including a seventh-inning single in Game 2 that plated Tyler Moore with what would become the winning run. Moore led off the seventh with a drive to right that just missed being a home run, bouncing off the top of the wall.
“We tried to tack on a few more runs to give Tyler (Roberts) room to work and close it out,” said Clements.
Roberts (4-2) gave up the three runs on nine hits with four strikeouts and three walks. Leading 3-2, he walked two batters in the fifth inning. The first was caught stealing by freshman catcher Matt Anderson, and the second was erased on a double play.
Greenbrier and Harlem advanced to the second round of the Class AAAA and Class AAA playoffs, respectively. Greenbrier downed Thomas County Central 11-1, 13-1, while Harlem defeated Eastside 12-2 and 3-1.