For the ninth time in 10 years the Greenbrier baseball team has reached the GHSA Class AAAA state playoffs. The Wolfpack's first-round wins against Baldwin 16-1 and 15-0 in a double-header Friday guaranteed the state's top team another state tournament bid.
As easy as the wins were, Greenbrier had plenty of reasons to not let up in Friday's double-header. Reminders of last season's region tournament first-round upset that kept the Wolfpack out of the state tournament for the first time in school history were all around them.
Before the game started, Greenbrier had already learned of Statesboro's early end to its season. The Blue Devils were the No. 1 team from the east subregion, but missed out on a trip to the state tournament on Thursday after dropping both games of a region tournament double-header to fourth-seeded Lakeside.
"It's tough for them because they had a good year," Greenbrier senior Rich Poythress said of Statesboro's loss. "It reminded us that anything could happen."
Just in case the Wolfpack needed any more reminding, Greenbrier coach Ed Williams threw more motivation at his players - a newspaper clipping hung on the dugout wall before Friday's game highlighting last year's season-ending losses.
"I also have that at home," Poythress said. "I see it every morning when I wake up. We were the first team at Greenbrier not to make it, and I didn't want that to happen again."
Poythress and the rest of the Wolfpack left nothing to chance with a dominant region tournament opening round. Both games against Baldwin were stopped by the mercy rule after only three innings, and the Wolfpack offense took over with three home runs from Poythress, Tim Thornhill and Rafael Parks.
Greenbrier pitchers Brandon Cumpton and Nolan Belcher earned their seventh wins of the season. Belcher threw a perfect game by retiring all nine batters he faced - six of them on strikeouts.
The sophomore said a short outing on a warm day will mean a quick recovery time for this week's region tournament play.
"I feel good," Belcher said. "The weather's nice, and that helps a lot. It's easier on a warm day like this."
The Wolfpack will finish out the Region 2-AAAA Tournament this week before turning their sights to the state tournament.
This weekend's region tournament games will decide seeding for the state tournament.
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