It was just a coincidence, but the high-school baseball campaign in Columbia County has a fitting regular-season finale this week.
Greenbrier travels to Lakeside on Thursday for a Region 3-AAAA contest, and the 7 p.m. game could prove pivotal in the race for state playoff berths.
"It just worked out that we finish with Lakeside," Wolfpack coach Ed Williams said. "The region coaches don't have a say in the schedules. We just drew numbers out of a hat."
For Greenbrier, the magic number is two. The Pack can clinch the Region 3-AAAA championship with wins over Glenn Hills (Tuesday) and Lakeside.
"If we win both games, we'll pretty much take care of ourselves," Williams said Monday. "We control our own destiny."
Lakeside pitcher Patrick Bagwell winds up during
baseball action at Lakeside High School on Friday evening. The Panthers play next against Greenbrier.
Photo by Michael Holahan
The Pack solidified its position in the region with an 8-4 victory over Statesboro on Saturday at the Brierpatch. Greenbrier has risen to the top of the region thanks to the pitching of Scott Wandless, Michael Newman, Ben Dukes and Brooks Robinson; the Pack also has received solid production at the plate from Wandless, Robinson, Jeremy Armstrong, Rich Poythress, Ben Tankersley, Brad Ramsbotham and Adrian McCladdie.
Though the task for Greenbrier is clear, the rest of the Region 3-AAAA equation is very complicated. Lakeside dropped a home game against Jones County last Friday, which gave the Panthers two region losses. Headed into this week's play, Jones County and Cross Creek also had lost two region games apiece.
Lakeside can nail down a trip to the Class AAAA state playoffs this week, but losses to Butler (Tuesday) and Greenbrier could make the Panthers an endangered species.
The Harlem Bulldogs, however, have found some bite again in 2003. The Dogs missed the state playoffs last season for the first time in 12 years, but Jimmie Lewis' team has punched a ticket to the Class AAA playoffs this season.
With a home win Wednesday against Josey, Harlem would finish third in Region 3-AAA.
"We're playing better right now than we've played all year," Lewis said. "Maybe we're peaking right now. We're back in the state playoffs, so I'm satisfied with that."
Lewis is still unsettled by his team's defensive play, but he is encouraged by the pitching of Jordan Whitaker and Jon Rickerson.
Harlem will close its regular season with a Thursday game at Evans, the last in a long line of rugged non-region games for the Dogs.
"We played a tough schedule this season, and that was intentional. Maybe it will pay off," Lewis said.
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