Greenbrier's dream ended Monday night after Columbus swept the Wolfpack in the Class AAAA State Semifinals at the Brierpatch.
Greenbrier's Brooks Robinson, right, hugs a teammate after Greenbrier lost to Columbus in the Georgia baseball playoffs Monday in Evans.
Photo by Kevin Martin
The Wolfpack lost the first game 12-6 and fell in the second game 7-3.
The Wolfpack could not overcome eight errors, 12 walks, three hit batters and a number of bobbled balls by infielders.
"We made too many errors that gave them extra outs," said Greenbrier head coach Ed Williams. "It came down to pitching and defense and they were better today."
Columbus (32-2) received complete games outings from Iain Sebastian and Brad Rulon, both considered among the best pitchers in the state.
Despite the success of the Blue Devil pitchers, who are arguably the most imposing one-two punch in the nation, Greenbrier was anything but intimidated.
"They are a regular high school team, just like us," said Greenbrier's Scott Wandless. "We knew they were good, but so are we."
Wandless was among a host of bright spots for the Wolfpack.
He pitched four innings in Game 2, giving up only one run and at bat adding a two-run triple. Wandless' fifth-inning triple gave the Wolfpack a 2-1 lead. Columbus took the lead in the bottom of the fifth and never looked back.
In Game 1 senior Michael Newman also pitched four innings and surrendered only two earned runs.
Rich Poythress came up big, hitting a grand slam in the bottom of the third in Game 1 to give Greenbrier a 5-1 advantage.
"That was the best lineup - one through nine - that I've seen all season," said Rulon, a 2004 Louisville Slugger All-American who will play at Georgia Tech next season. "We just happened to outhit them today."
Sebastian, a junior and an AFLAC All-American, agreed.
"They hit my fastball better than anyone I saw this year," he said. "There were no easy outs in that lineup."
Columbus, ranked sixth in the nation by Baseball America and USA Today, will face Northgate for the state title this weekend but Wolfpack players felt they showed they belonged with the more-touted team.
"If they are the sixth best team in the nation," said Wandless, "then we have to be the seventh."
The end of the season means the end of a career at Greenbrier for many of the seniors on the team. Wandless, Newman, Sam Pitts and Brooks Robinson all leave a team that went 28-5 and won the past three Region Championships.
Greenbrier's MIchael Newman pitches during the Wolfpack's semifinal game vs. Columbus in the Georgia baseball playoffs Monday. Columbus swept the series 12-6 and 7-3.
Photo by Kevin Martin
"We had such a great group of seniors," said Williams. "For them to accomplish all they did is amazing and we had a heck of a year."
Wandless added, "I put four hard years into the program and it seems like we come up short and lose to the eventual state champs every year. I'm just heartbroken."
The cupboard, however, will not be bare next season.
The Wolfpack returns Poythress, a rising junior, who has a chance to become one of the greatest power hitters in the area's history.
Brad Ramsbotham, Chris Johnson, Jeremy Armstrong and Ben Dukes are all starters who will return to try and win the fourth straight region title and maybe more.
"We bring a lot back," said Johnson. "Next year we want to be back here and go even farther."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.