While still relatively early in the Region 2-AAAAA race, Friday night's game with Evans was a crucial one for the Grovetown Warriors.
After losing their first two games in their first year in the same region with Evans, Greenbrier and Lakeside, the Warriors got a standout performance from pitcher Hunter McBride and jumped back into the thick of things with a 3-0 win.
"This region's tough, man," said Warriors head coach Mike Jones. "To be kind of in the middle is kind of a testament to the kids, how hard they've worked. They deserve all the good stuff and to be right in the middle of this thing is going to be fun."
The Warriors improved to 6-2 overall, 1-2 in Region 2-AAAAA while the Knights fell to 7-3, 1-2. After the first three of nine region games, the Warriors and Knights are just one game behind Lakeside and Greenbrier who are each 2-1 in the region.
McBride, the Warriors' tall right-hander, went right after Knights batters the whole night pitching a complete-game shutout while allowing three hits and striking out three.
"Our motto is we're going to go at you," Jones said. "We're going to challenge you with what we've got and Hunter did that tonight and he did it efficiently."
McBride (2-1) threw 85 pitches and allowed just four runners to get as far as second base. He thought the win was a total team effort.
"Anytime you get a win it feels good, but anytime it's somebody in the county it feels that much better," said McBride. "I felt like I did a pretty good job pounding the zone, but I definitely couldn't have done it without the help of the guys in the field. There were a lot of outs made on a lot of big plays in the field."
Tyler Roberts (1-2) took the loss for the Knights (7-3, 1-2) working six innings, allowing six hits, striking out four and walking five.
Cameron Busbsy and Ryan Beasley did all the damage, splitting the Warriors six hits evenly.
Busby led the game off with a single, moved to second on Aaron Sarver's sacrifice and scored on Ryan Beasley's low liner to the gap in left center that just eluded the grasp of leaping shortstop RaeKwon Bennett.
It looked like the one run might be all that either pitcher would allow, but the Warriors scratched out two more runs in the fifth. Once again Beasley led the inning off with a single, went to third on an error and and scored on Beasley's one-out single. A stolen base, passed ball and wild pitch plated Beasley with the team's third run.
"I felt good today," said Beasley. "Even in batting practice I felt something different. I felt really comfortable in the box and a lot of games you don't really feel that comfortable, but today I felt really comfortable."
McBride allowed a two out double to Jeremy Clements in the sixth, but got the final four outs of the game with ease.
"When you're not getting guys on, you can't do a whole lot with that, and we weren't able to get anything going, string anything together," said Evans head coach Ricky Beale.
No matter what others thought, Grovetown's players had confidence coming into the game.
"The people in the dugout were the only ones giving us a shot to win," McBride said. "This just goes to prove that Grovetown baseball is going down the right path."