It's already been a storybook season for the Greenbrier High School baseball team. However, the book had gotten monotonous after 30 straight wins. Every paragraph, page and chapter were pretty much the same: Greenbrier blows out opponent, Belcher strikes out 15, Johnson, Poythress and Morris homer, the grass was green, etc.
Then, finally, a twist.
The Wolfpack had to go on the road in the state quarterfinals.
Forget the fact that they were the only undefeated high school baseball team in Georgia. Throw out the 322 runs scored and 47 runs allowed in 29 games. Overlook the fact that Sports Illustrated had already gone to print with Greenbrier ranked No. 18 in the nation. Forget that Greenbrier's opponent, North Forsyth, already had four losses this season, including a 4-0 loss to Marist - a team Greenbrier beat 14-2.
All that aside, the GHSA saw Greenbrier and North Forsyth as equals and let a random tie-breaker determine home field advantage. The Wolfpack split the Day 1 double-header at North Forsyth.
If Greenbrier had played at home, would they still be undefeated?
We'll never know.
But I'll jump off that soap box now. No time for whining. Coach Ed Williams and the Wolfpack are a classy bunch, and those words are mine, not theirs.
Besides, there's baseball left to be played.
Facing elimination for the first time since last season's stunning loss to Statesboro in the region tournament, Greenbrier won the third game vs. North Forsyth 10-0. In what has become a controversial move, coach Ed Williams used sophomore Nolan Belcher on the mound for a second straight day.
In two days he threw 179 pitches in 12 innings and gave up only two runs on four hits.
Then the critics came out of the woodwork.
North Forsyth coach Jim Cahill led the way with a statement after the game.
"I think a kid's arm and health mean more than a playoff game," he said.
Last I checked, Belcher's arm didn't fall off.
He'll be fine. No one went nuts when Harlem coach Jimmie Lewis threw his No. 1 pitcher in consecutive days two weeks ago. There's a long track record of pitchers throwing back-to-back days in past state tournament series. It's not the first time it's happened, but for all those critics I suppose it's another reason to dislike Greenbrier. It's too bad they can't get past their hatred - they might miss something pretty impressive over the next week.
So the book continues for at least another chapter. It may end in tragedy (a semifinals loss in two games), triumph (35-1 and AAAA state champs) or comedy (Marist brings in sophomore transfers Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds for an undisclosed amount of cash. Greenbrier wins in 3).
I don't know how the final chapter will read. Regardless of the outcome, it's safe to say this season will end with an exclamation point.
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