Exactly nine months and two days after Greenbrier won its fourth baseball state championship on its home field, the Wolfpack returned to the Greenbrier diamond last Monday for its 2007 season opener.
While many of the big names that got them to last year's Class AAAA state title were no longer around, the outcome was the same.
Greenbrier beat Washington County 10-0 in a game shortened to four and a half innings by the mercy rule.
"Everybody's fighting for position right now," Greenbrier pitcher Pat McGowan said.
"I'm glad we were able to bounce back off a loss like this. We needed this win bad."
The Wolfpack split a pair of road games before the home opener. A 3-2 loss to Class AAAA No. 3 Heritage put them at 1-1 on the season.
McGowan put Greenbrier back above .500 with a three-hit shutout in five innings of work.
The junior struck out eight Washington County batters, including three straight in the fourth inning after the Hawks put runners on second and third with no outs.
Two Greenbrier infield errors put McGowan in the sticky situation. He got out of the jam himself.
"I knew I needed to pick my teammates up," he said. "It felt good going in the dugout with three straight strikeouts."
Greenbrier carried the momentum with a five-run fourth inning.
Seniors Brandon Cumpton (3-for-3, 3 RBI) and Russ Winter (2-for-3, 2 RBI) led the Wolfpack at the plate in the 10-0 blowout. Winter, the team's starting catcher this year and last year, was regularly benched in favor of a designated hitter last season. This year, he's getting more opportunities at the plate.
"He was one of our best hitters in summer ball," coach Rodney Holder said. "We know he's a good hitter."
The senior has been on the receiving end of some of the best pitching in the state since last year's season began. Now as one of five starting seniors, he'll be asked to come out from behind the plate and contribute with a bat as well. Winter said he welcomes the extra responsibility.
"I enjoy it. During summer ball I was swinging the stick pretty good, and now I've got my chance this year," he said.
Greenbrier will go to Washington County for a 6 p.m. game on Tuesday and play Harlem at home Friday at 5 p.m.
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