Greenbrier swept past Richmond Hill on Wednesday to advance to the AAAAA State Quarterfinals. In Game one, junior right-hander Nick Sandlin continued his amazing season with perhaps his best outing of the year. He needed just 78 pitches to toss a complete game two-hitter with nine strikeouts.
That ran his record to an incredible 11-0 on the season. Sandlin helped his
cause with a solo HR as well. Senior outfielder Chris Michals also went deep for his team-leading sixth long ball of the year. Michals may be the most underrated player in all of Class AAAAA. In game two, sophomore Connor Hogan gave a gutsy performance, going the distance to improve to 8-2 as Greenbrier prevailed 5-3.
With the two game sweep the Pack now stand at 23-6 on the season, and continue to showcase stellar pitching and outstanding defense.
Greenbrier has allowed only 55 earned runs all season, and has yielded one run or fewer an astonishing 15 times in their 29 games.
Greenbrier’s quarterfinal opponent, Stephenson, also swept past their Second Round opponent, topping
East Paulding 14-13 and 8-3. The runs allowed to East Paulding are not indicative of how good the Jaguars pitching has been this season.
They sport a team ERA of 1.97 and shutout Heritage twice in their opening round series win.
That, however, is where the similarities end.
Here are a few examples of the differences between the two teams:
Greenbrier: Has won five state titles, two state runners up, and 14 region crowns since their first season in 1997.
Stephenson: Had never won 15 games until this season. Also, had never made it out of the First Round of the State Playoffs.
Greenbrier: The Pack average slightly less than one stolen base per game, with 26 steals through their first 27 games. Only two players have more than three stolen bases on the year and no one has cracked double figures.
Stephenson: The Jags average five stolen bases per game, and have five players with 15 or more swipes this season.
Led by Kameron Armstorng (Jr./Inf) who has 29 on the season and South Carolina football signee, D.J. Neal (CF), who has 24.
Greenbrier: Greenbrier has some terrific talent, but it is unlikely they will get much draft attention, unless Sasser and Sandlin surprise us all next year.
Stephenson: Tekwaan Whyte is almost a lock for the 2015 Draft, and freakish athlete D.J. Neal could be selected as well.
Neal is 6-3, 200 pounds and can fly. Whyte is a switch hitting infielder who also touches 91-92 on the mound.
Greenbrier: Few programs that have only been around for 18 years can boast the incredible pitching talent that Greenbrier fans have been fortunate to see play at the Patch, but this year’s squad is only three pitchers deep. Sandlin, Hogan, and Sasser are a combined 23-3 -- the rest of the staff is 0-3.
Stephenson: Prior To this season, Stephenson had never had a pitcher earn five victories in a season.
However, this year there may not be another school in Class AAAAA that has as many quality arms as Stephenson.
So, many that they really do not have a true 1-2- or 3 pitcher.
They have already thrown six pitchers in the state tournament and have two or three other kids they could see time on the hill if need be.
Power at The Plate
Greenbrier: The Pack packs a punch with 16 home runs this season (which is a solid total with the new bat restrictions). Team Leaders - Chris Michals (6) Adam Sasser (5)
Stephenson: The Jags have plenty of doubles and triple, but they have only left the yard three times all season. They prefer to get people on base and use their team speed to create runs.
Likely Starters for Stephenson (Pitching Stats are through April 24th / 21 games)
Game 1: Marcus Young RHP (6-4, 245 lb. Sr.) Was 6-0 with an era of 1.07 ERA
Game 2: Tekwaan Whyte RHP (6-0, 170) Jr.) 5-1, 1.91 ERA and 59 K’ in just 40.1 innings
Game 3: Josh Ballou RHP (5-11, 170 Jr.) Tossed a complete game shutout with 8 K’s in Round One clincher over Heritage
Other Pitchers: Terrell McCall RHP, D.J. Neal RHP, Bryan Betts LHP, Ryan Betts LHP
Key Offensive Players for Stephenson
Jalen Robinson Infield (5-8, 145 lb. SR) Leads team in hitting at .396 with speed to burn
Harrison Moore OF (6-2, 185 SR.) Among state leaders in doubles with 15
Tekwaan Whyte (6-0, 170 Jr.) Hitting .355 with a team best 27 RBI
Others: David Burke (Catcher) One of only 2 lefty hitters to likely start
Kameron Armstrong (Junior / Infield) Loads of speed
D.J. Neal (Junior / CF) Hitting .324. Committed to play WR at South Carolina
Terrell McCall (RHP/INF/OF) Junior