Spring-like weather made its appearance in Columbia County last week, as the sun heralded the arrival of the high school baseball season.
The Greenbrier Wolfpack was certainly basking in the glow of a hot start to the 2004 campaign.
The Pack picked up a pair of wins over Columbia County rivals, and with an 8-1 win Wednesday at Evans, Greenbrier senior Scott Wandless was brimming with confidence.
"That win's a perfect start to our season," Wandless said. "We're pumped because we've got the upper hand over them now."
The Knights swept two games from Greenbrier last season, but after taking the loss as starting pitcher on Wednesday, Evans junior Hank McCladdie was crushed.
"This is tough to take," McCladdie said. "Losing to Greenbrier like this ... has to be one of the worst feelings of my high school career."
The prep baseball season is like a marathon, with the crucial region games coming up in April, but Greenbrier has sprinted out of the blocks in March.
In Monday's season opener at the Brierpatch, the Pack topped Harlem 16-5 in six innings. Greenbrier tallied 12 runs in the final two frames to claim the mercy-rule win.
The Pack pounded out 12 hits, including homers by Ryan Wallace, Wandless and Jeremy Armstrong. Wandless also had a double and triple (3 for 3 with 3 RBIs); Brad Ramsbotham and Chris Johnson both had two hits.
Harlem committed four errors, and the Bulldogs were led at the plate by Rusty James and Ben Hill (two hits apiece). Wandless was the winning pitcher against Harlem.
In Greenbrier's win Wednesday at Evans, senior Michael Newman pitched a complete game for the Pack. On offense, Ramsbotham (3-4, 3 RBIs), Wandless (2-4 2 RBIs) and Jeremy Armstrong (2-4) provided the punch.
The Knights committed four errors, and no Evans player had more than one hit. The big blow came in the top of the fifth, when the Pack scored five runs thanks to three fielding flubs by Evans.
"I thought we really lost our focus," Evans coach Ricky Beale said. "You can't give Greenbrier those extra outs and expect to win."
Evans fared better in its season and home-opener, posting a 6-2 win Monday against Hephzibah. The Knights notched four runs in bottom of the fifth to give pitcher Zack Baker the victory.
Shawn Ward (2-4 with 2 RBIs) and Mike Armstrong (2 RBIs) helped lead Evans past the Rebels.
In other season-opening action, Columbia County's private school squads got off to good starts.
Augusta Christian outscored the Americans, 16-10 Tuesday at AC. Ben Palacz was winning pitcher, and the Lions' leading hitters were Dwight Banks (3 RBIs), Josh Whitaker (2-2) and Freddrick Griffin (home run).
Augusta Prep, meanwhile, got the ball rolling last weekend, where the Cavaliers cruised to a 9-2 home-field win over Edmund Burke Academy. The Cavaliers scored seven runs in the bottom of the sixth to seal things.
Trey Minor was starting pitcher for Prep, and Ken Davis earned the win in relief.
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