Greenbrier pitcher Brandon Cumpton's 2-2 pitch blew by Marist's Kevin Cote for the final out Saturday to clinch a Class AAAA state championship.
The strikeout capped one of the best baseball seasons in Columbia County history. It also marked the final moments of Greenbrier baseball under the leadership of coach Ed Williams.
Williams, who led the Wolfpack to a 35-1 record this year, will retire as coach to take an assistant principal job at Greenbrier starting next fall.
"The decision has been made, and I'm looking forward to it, but how am I not going to miss this?" Williams said after the state title postgame celebration.
Immediately after Cumpton's strikeout sealed Greenbrier's fourth state title in 10 years, Williams savored his last moments as a Wolfpack coach. He also got a well-deserved memento that, amid the postgame celebration, never left his back pocket.
"The umpire brought it over and said it was a game ball," Williams said. "I'll hold on to that."
Williams will take away plenty of memories from the 2006 state title season. The rigid, soft-spoken coach led a team that dominated opponents across the state and ended the season ranked No. 10 in the nation, according to Sports Illustrated. He'll also take home the respect of all his players.
"The last four years I've played for him in probably hundreds of games," Greenbrier senior Rich Poythress said. "He's a great coach and even a better person."
Williams did more than just stand in the third base coaching box for the Wolfpack. He was the mind behind the small-ball approach to get by Etowah in the state semifinals and also put sophomore pitcher Nolan Belcher on the mound in back-to-back days in the state quarterfinals at North Forsyth.
Belcher responded with two complete-game outings which allowed Greenbrier to advance past the No. 3 team in the state.
"Ed's great with the kids," Greenbrier assistant coach Garrett Black said. "He gets the most out of the kids and cares about them."
Greenbrier strength and conditioning coach Rodney Holder - son of coach Terry Holder, who led Greenbrier to its first three state titles - will unofficially take over Williams' spot as head coach starting June 13 when the team begins summer ball play.
Holder will coach next season's squad, which returns five starters.
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