Baseball season in Columbia County began Monday in a big way with three out of four county teams winning their season openers - the only loss coming to a fellow county team.
Evans and Lakeside each earned home wins from out-of-county opponents, while Greenbrier knocked off Harlem in the Wolfpack's home opener.
At Greenbrier, senior shortstop Chris Johnson hit a pair of home runs in his first two at bats. The Wolfpack's 4-0 lead after one inning turned into a 7-0 advantage in the second. Three more runs in the bottom of the sixth gave Greenbrier an 10-0 win and pitcher Brandon Cumpton his first victory of the season.
Cumpton's complete-game three-hitter included eight strike-outs and only one walk in five innings of work.
"Brandon threw a few too many pitches, but it's still early," Greenbrier coach Ed Williams said. "We would have liked to see him throw more strikes. Any win's a good win, though."
Evans pitcher Kevin Millward also turned in a strong performance on the mound Monday. The sophomore picked up his first win of the year in a complete-game three-hitter and helped himself at the plate with a home run to lift Evans over Burke County 11-1.
Senior Matt Stark also provided an offensive spark, batting 2-for-3 with a double.
At Lakeside, the Panthers' questions concerning pitching were answered in its season opener Monday. J.C. Huffman and Trey Dove combined to allow four runs on five hits for a 7-4 Lakeside win over South Aiken.
Huffman got the win in five innings of work and helped his own cause with a two-RBI double for the Panthers' first win of the year.
Lakeside hit the diamond once again a day later but fell to Elbert County 14-4. Huffman's bat came alive again with a home run late in the game, but it wasn't enough to catch Elbert County's 14 runs on 15 hits and seven Lakeside errors.
"Those errors led to quite a few unearned runs," Lakeside coach Jay Matthews said. "You expect to have some first-week mistakes, but not seven in one game."
Matthews said despite the loss he was proud of the way his team hit the ball on Tuesday. In addition to Huffman's home run, Zach Lawson and Keith Lee both batted 3-for-3 on the day.
Freshman Ryan Hutchins took the loss on the mound for the Panthers, but, according to Matthews, the pitching wasn't a problem.
"We started a freshman, and he didn't have any walks," Matthews said. "He did what we asked him to do. He threw strikes and let them put the ball in play."
Lakeside will travel to Cross Creek Tuesday for a 5 p.m. game while Evans and Harlem will battle on the diamond at Evans on Tuesday starting at 5 p.m. Greenbrier is off until Friday when Cross Creek visits at 5 p.m.
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