Former Evans High School star Todd Greene had to be excited. The team he grew up rooting for (and still admits he is a fan of) was coming to Colorado to square off with himhis Colorado Rockies teammates.
His excitement was tempered Friday night, as a snowstorm postponed the first game of the series with the Atlanta Braves. That set up a doubleheader for Saturday. Greene entered the series in a bit of a slump. After starting the season 5 for 10, Greene had just two hits in his last 19 at bats. His average plummeted from .500 to .250.
Game 1 of the Saturday double-dip found the Braves on top 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning when Greene was called on to pinch hit. With a runner on first, Greene doubled to deep right center to cut Atlanta's lead in half. The Rockies would go on to win 3-2.
In Game 2, the Columbia County native started behind the plate. Greene singled in his first two at bats and drove in a run in the fifth. His 3-for-3 start raised his average to .313. Unfortunately, Greene was retired in his last two at bats, but it didn't ruin his day. He finished 3-for-5 with two runs batted in, raising his average to a very respectable .294.
The teams split the two games, with the Rockies taking the first 3-2 and the Braves winning the nightcap 11-7.
Shanks signs with world champs
Many people in the baseball world were shocked six weeks ago when the Kansas City Royals released former Greenbrier High School star James Shanks. The speedy outfielder appeared to be on the verge of playing in the big leagues. The Royals had invited him to play in the Arizona Fall League, which is usually a precursor for making it to the "bigs."
But the Royals abruptly cut Shanks loose. The timing was terrible; most teams had already finalized their roster, which meant Shanks had to play the waiting game.
Well, he need wait no more. Shanks, who hit three homers in one game in the 1997 State Championship Series to help propel Greenbrier to their first state crown, has signed a contract with the Florida Marlins.
The 2003 World Series champs have assigned Shanks to the single-A Greensboro Bats. Greensboro plays in the South Atlantic League with the Augusta GreenJackets. In all likelihood, he will be promoted before Greensboro's next visit to Augusta, on June 22-24.
As a matter of fact, Florida is so high on Shanks that it's possible he could be a big-league call-up in September. The Marlins, a team lacking athletic outfielders in their farm system, love Shanks' raw skills. He left Kansas City under a cloud of controversy, but it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
Region crown up for grabs
It's always big when Greenbrier and Lakeside meet on the diamond, but Thursday could be one for the ages. With the way the Region 3-AAAA schedule is set up, teams play their region opponents only once, and it just so happens that the Wolfpack and the Panthers play each other in the final region game of the year with the region title on the line.
Personally, I think in baseball, region teams should play each other at least twice, but it does make it exciting for the fans that Lakeside and Greenbrier will play for the first time all year to settle not just the region, but also all the debate over who has the better team. So when the two finally meet tomorrow at Greenbrier High School, I recommend you get there early to get a good seat.
Greenbrier stands at 20-2 overall and 7-1 in region play, while Lakeside is 19-5, 7-1 in the region. The Pack will go with either Scott Wandless or Michael Newman on the mound. Wandless had great success against the Panthers last season, but has been hampered with a strained bicep tendon and is not 100 percent, while Newman has been awfully tough on the opposition this season. Coach Ed Williams will have a tough decision.
For the Panthers, the choice is a little clearer. Jonathon Crawford has been the team's ace all season and will likely get the call Thursday. Teams have found that Crawford does not give up much, and Williams has taken notice. "I think the key for us is getting some runs off the Crawford kid. Nobody has been able to score any runs on him all year, so we will have our hands full," Williams said.
Lakeside had a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Jones County over the weekend. The Panthers still control their own destiny, and they must put that game out of their minds and focus on the task at hand. I don't think they will have a hard time getting up for Greenbrier. This game will have a state championship atmosphere, and, as is always the case in big games, the team that limits its mistakes will come out on top. Of course, a timely hit doesn't hurt.
Let's get out and support these teams Thursday. They have worked hard all year to be in this type of situation, and they deserve to play in front of a big crowd. So clear your schedule for Thursday afternoon for some high school baseball at its very best.
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