It took only one round of the Region 2-AAAA Baseball Tournament for one subregion to show its dominance over the other. All four teams in the west subregion - Greenbrier, Jones County, Evans and Lakeside - disposed of the entire east subregion in the region tournament's first round.
The wins were only the initial step in the pursuit of a region title, but meant much more on a larger scale.
"It means we made it to state now," Greenbrier High School's Chris Johnson said. "We don't have to take that long bus ride home like we did last year."
Greenbrier was the only Columbia County team to miss out on the state playoffs last season. This year, the Wolfpack will enter the state tournament with a guaranteed home game in at least the first round.
The Wolfpack earned the home field advantage Tuesday in a 5-3 nail-biter over Evans.
Greenbrier trailed for most of the game as Evans High School ace Kyle Golden baffled the Wolfpack offense. A 3-0 lead through five innings didn't last, however, as Greenbrier scored five runs in the sixth inning. Wolfpack senior Cal Morris played the role of hero with a two-out, two-RBI double to claim the win and seal a home game in the tournament's first round.
"It's real big," Greenbrier senior Rich Poythress said. "It's tough to go to somebody else's place and play."
That's exactly the situation Evans and Lakeside face after both teams lost in the region tournament semifinals. Evans fell to Greenbrier for the third time this season, while Lakeside lost at Jones County.
The result is a road series in the first round of the state tournament that could be as far away as Bainbridge, Ga. - a round-trip distance of nearly 600 miles.
"Traveling's not a concern for us," Evans coach Ricky Beale said.
The Knights have already seen success on the road this year with a pair of wins at Effingham County in the first round of the region tournament. Evans faced elimination after splitting a double-header at Effingham County but took the rubber match a day later to earn a state tournament bid.
Lakeside also has built a track record as a good road team this postseason with a two-game sweep over Statesboro in the region tournament's first round. The Blue Devils entered as the No. 1 seed from the east subregion but had no answer for Lakeside's Paul Miller. The senior hit two home runs and seven RBIs to end Statesboro's season.
The Class AAAA state tournament will begin Friday. Each round will be a best-of-three game series.
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