A number of firsts highlighted the baseball diamond in Columbia County last week.
With Evans (5-1) facing a struggling Richmond Academy (1-4) squad, Knights coach Ricky Beale put the ball in the hands of starting catcher Wes Baxter. In his first high school pitching start, Baxter threw five innings and gave up one run on four hits for an 11-1 Evans win.
"He got a little tired, but he did a great job," Evans coach Ricky Beale said. "I wanted to get him worn out."
While Baxter switched from catcher to pitcher for the first time in high school ball, second baseman Alex Sickman filled in at catcher and third baseman Kevin Millward switched to second base.
"We're trying to figure out what we can do in certain situations," Beale said. "That was the whole thing tonight. We're giving them prep time so if we do have to switch up some positions, they're not totally surprised."
Despite the lineup jumble, the Knights had no trouble on offense. Already with a 4-1 lead, Millward launched a three-run home run in the fourth inning. Sickman ended the game with a walk-off home run in the fifth to give the Knights their fifth win via the mercy rule this season.
The Greenbrier baseball team also experienced a first on the diamond last Friday. Wolfpack newcomer Nolan Belcher got the starting nod for the first time in the Greenbrier green and lived up to the offseason hype.
Last season's Columbia County player of the year as a freshman, Belcher took the mound for his first start as a sophomore on Friday against Cross Creek. In six innings, Belcher gave up only one run and led the Wolfpack to a 7-1 win.
"He went six innings, and he pretty much had command of the game," Greenbrier coach Ed Williams said. "That's what I'm as pleased with as much as anything."
Greenbrier outfielder Rafael Parks contributed offensively with a home run to keep the Wolfpack at an undefeated 4-0 this season.
With wins from both Evans and Greenbrier last weekend, the stage is now set for the annual showdown between the two baseball powers. Greenbrier will play at Evans on Friday in their first of two meetings this year.
As of Monday, Beale said he was unsure who would get the start for Evans. At Greenbrier, Williams said either Belcher or Brandon Cumpton would take the mound.
"There's a lot of excitement around the school," Beale said. "We've talked to the guys about trying to keep everything level - not too high and not too low."
Lakeside also was in action last week with a 7-1 win over Elbert County. The victory avenged a Panther loss to Elbert County two weeks ago and improved Lakeside's record to 4-1 on the season.
The Panthers will host Evans at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Augusta Prep recorded their fourth win of the year on Saturday in a 16-2 blowout win at John Hancock Academy.
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