For the first time this decade, a Georgia High School Association baseball state championship could return to Columbia County.
Greenbrier (33-1) will play host in the Class AAAA state title series against visiting Marist (23-11). The playoff will begin at 3 p.m. Friday with a doubleheader.
The trip back to the state championship is the first since 1999 for the Wolfpack and comes after a dominating two-game sweep over Etowah High in the state semifinals Monday. Greenbrier swept the Region 6-AAAA four-seed 7-0, 9-3 on a hot Memorial Day.
"The heat drained me a little bit," Greenbrier pitcher Brandon Cumpton said. "I tried to work a little faster just to get in."
During the afternoon doubleheader, the temperature rose to the mid-90s with little wind. Though the heat took its toll on both teams, the heavy, humid air affected the ball. The Wolfpack offense, known for its power hitting, went homerless for the day, though several long shots looked destined for the trees beyond center field.
"The balls that would normally make this field look little didn't go anywhere today," senior Rich Poythress said.
Several sacrifice bunts and speed on the base paths gave pitchers Cumpton and Nolan Belcher all the run support they needed. The two combined for 12 innings of one-run ball on three hits in the semifinals series. Senior Rafael Parks closed out both games in his first appearance on the mound since the state tournament started.
"He needed the work, and it was nice to get Brandon and Nolan out of there after six innings," Greenbrier coach Ed Williams said. "We have just three days to rest."
After Monday's games, Williams said the pitching rotation will remain the same for the title series. Parks said Monday's outings went a long way in preparing him for Friday's series.
"It felt good to be out there. If we need a third pitcher, I can be it," Parks said.
Greenbrier and Marist have met only once this season. The Wolfpack claimed a 14-2 win during a spring break road trip at the University of Georgia's Foley Field.
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