An undefeated record didn't survive the weekend, but the Greenbrier High School baseball team did.
The Wolfpack (31-1, AAAA No. 1) won Game 1 at North Forsyth (27-6, AAAA No. 3) in the quarterfinal round of the Class AAAA state tournament. The second game, however, looked nothing like typical Greenbrier baseball.
The Wolfpack committed eight errors in seven innings of Game 2 and lost 7-5. The fielding performance was the worst of the season for Greenbrier, and it ended the team's undefeated streak at 30 games.
"I told my team afterward that we didn't deserve to win that second game. North Forsyth did," Greenbrier coach Ed Williams said. "We didn't make the plays. They put the pressure on us and we didn't handle it well at all."
Greenbrier junior Brandon Cumpton picked up his first loss of the season in a complete game outing. Despite all the errors, Cumpton held North Forsyth as long as he could, and the two teams entered the final inning tied at 3-3. The Raiders plated four runs in the top of the seventh, and Greenbrier never recovered.
The loss forced a Game 3 the next day, and a tough decision for Wolfpack coach Ed Williams.
Cumpton's arm was done after throwing more than 120 pitches. The Wolfpack No. 3 man, Rafael Parks, had been solid through the regular season but was untested in the playoffs.
Instead, Williams started Nolan Belcher again. The sophomore had thrown 108 pitches Tuesday but was willing to take the mound the next day. He needed only 71 pitches Wednesday to get a five-inning 10-0 win.
"My legs felt a lot better today than they did yesterday. My arm felt a little tight, but that's to be expected," Belcher said. "It made my arm feel a lot better when we put five or six runs up on the board."
The runs that seemed so hard to come by Tuesday came in droves Wednesday when the team needed it most. Cumpton avenged his pitching loss with a two-for-three day at the plate and two RBIs in the win.
Senior Chris Johnson went two-for-four with an RBI in Game 3. The starting shortstop was the hero Tuesday with Game 1's two-run home run in the fifth inning.
"It felt so good to do that against a pitcher like (Scott) Patterson," Johnson said. "Everyone coming into the game said he was just about unhittable. So to put a good swing on a pitch and have it mean so much to winning the game just felt great."
The series win allowed Greenbrier to advance to the Class AAAA state semifinals against AAAA No. 10 Etowah on Monday at Greenbrier. Even though the Wolfpack survived the two-day series, Belcher said the team will advance with bittersweet memories of its series with North Forsyth.
"They beat us. We didn't help the cause, but they beat us," he said. "It hurts to lose a game, especially going all this way this season without losing. But it's good to come out with the win in the third game to move on."
The Augusta Chronicle staff writer Jeff Sentell contributed to this article.
Greenbrier in AAAA Baseball Semifinals
Who: Greenbrier (1 seed, Region 2) vs. Etowah (4 seed, Region 6)
What: Class AAAA State Tournament Semifinals, best-of-three games series
When: Monday, May 29, first game of double-header at 2 p.m.
What if: Third game, if necessary, would be played on Tuesday at Greenbrier at 5 p.m.
Then what: A series win would put Greenbrier in the AAAA state championship series against the winner of Marist and Heritage.
Who to watch: Pitcher Brandon Cumpton didn't have a bad outing at North Forsyth last week, but he did pick up his first loss of the season. How well will the junior bounce back in his next appearance on the mound in game 2?
Also can Etowah, a four-seed, keep up its Cinderella run? They lost to North Forsyth twice this season but have won four of their past five games.
After winning games 1 and 3 of the North Forsyth Series, Nolan Belcher will likely take the mound in Monday's Game 1 vs. Etowah.
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