After picking up a pair of two-hit shutouts (5-0, 6-0) over Ware County in the first round of the Region 3-AAAA Tournament, Greenbrier seems to be clicking on all cylinders. Starting pitchers Nolan Belcher (12) and Brandon Cumpton (8) combined to strike out 20 Ware County hitters in the two-game sweep.
Wolfpack pitching has been sizzling. Greenbrier has given up just 17 runs in their last 16 games. By the way, Greenbrier is 16-0 in those contests.
Repeating as state champs will not be easy, but I can't imagine any Class AAAA coach wants to face Greenbrier pitching anytime soon. In addition to Belcher and Cumpton, the 'Pack can call on junior Patrick McGowan. He gives Greenbrier a third option that most high school teams do not have. He is unbeaten with an ERA under 0.50 this season.
A monster season
Former Greenbrier star Michael Newman has been sensational in 2007 at Georgia College and State University. The junior right-hander is 9-2 with a Peach Belt Conference-leading ERA of 0.92. He has five saves and has yielded just six earned runs in 56 innings of work.
Newman also has 47 strikeouts and just 13 walks in his 30 appearances for the Bobcats this season. He is one of the main reasons GCSU has repeated as Peach Belt champions. GCSU is 44-12 overall on the season with an impressive 23-7 conference mark. The Bobcats are ranked sixth in the nation and begin the Peach Belt Conference Tournament on May 10.
The Evans Knights, Region 3N-AAAA's No. 4 seed, blitzed through Wayne County last week with a pair of impressive wins. The Knights had terrific pitching as they took down Region 3S-AAAA top-seed Wayne County 6-4 and 2-1.
The Knights have a solid two-man rotation in Kyle Golden and Kevin Millward, but struggled a bit with their bats vs. Wayne County, so they will need some of their hitters to step up if they plan to make a deep playoff run.
On a positive note, Evans won by doing the little things right. They played solid defense and capitalized on every Wayne County miscue. If the Knights keep playing error-free ball, they could be a real sleeper in the state playoffs.
Harlem has had quite a year.
The Bulldogs are 19-5 overall this season. More impressive is the fact that Jimmie Lewis' troops have lost only one game to a Class AAA team. Their other losses came to Class AAAA schools. The Bulldogs' one Class AAA loss was a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Thomson. That was Harlem's only blemish in 10 region contests.
No one seems to be considering the Bulldogs in the Class AAA state playoffs. That could be a huge mistake. As always, the 'Dogs are well-coached, but this season they have a balanced attack.
Mike Leverett, Wesley Morris, Rodney Scruggs and Mike Sanders have been outstanding this season. Scruggs and Sanders give the Bulldogs two quality pitchers to make a deep playoff march a real possibility. It is hard to believe a school with Harlem's tradition, a coach with Lewis' accomplishments and a 19-5 (9-1 subregion) record being overlooked.
However, that is exactly what is happening.
I have a feeling coach Lewis is using this as motivation for his team.
Do not be shocked if Harlem is playing in late May.
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