Greenbrier won the region.
In a Region 3-AAAA baseball tournament with upsets, mercy rules, home runs and pitching gems, it all ended the same as it did last season. The defending Class AAAA state champs knocked off Effingham County, 3-1, on Friday in the region finals.
"We knew we were going to be in some close games," Greenbrier baseball coach Rodney Holder said. "We just told the guys to keep working hard, and the game will pay you back."
That's exactly what happened in a region tournament that saw Greenbrier win four straight games to claim another championship. The Wolfpack had no trouble in a pair of shutout wins over Ware County in the first round. They also breezed through the region semifinals with an 11-1 win over Brunswick.
The 3-1 win over Effingham County in the region finals wasn't the same type of blowout as the previous wins, but the same stars came through in the clutch. Greenbrier senior Brandon Cumpton threw a complete-game two-hitter and drove in teammates Jeff Rowland and Nolan Belcher with a shot to left field at the plate. Shortstop Damien Lucree added more run support with an RBI single in the sixth inning to score pinch runner Loren Collins.
The hitting was just enough to win, but the pitching was dominant.
"You got to tip your hat to Cumpton," Effingham County baseball coach Brett Griffin said. "He threw a great game. That's what baseball's all about."
Cumpton improved to 6-1 overall and hit the 60 strike- out mark for the season by fanning 11 Effingham County batters. He retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced in the seven-inning effort.
"I spent a little more time warming up and stretching today," Cumpton said. "This is just the first step to a state championship." The next step to a possible state title repeat will begin on Friday with the first round of the Class AAAA state tournament. Greenbrier will play host to Whitewater in the best-of-three first-round series.
The visiting Wildcats saw their season come to an end last year with a 20-0 loss to Greenbrier in the second game of the Class AAAA state tournament second round.
Evans High bound for state tournament
Evans' baseball team will also take the field this Friday in the first round of the Class AAAA state tournament.
The Knights lost to Brunswick in the Region 3-AAAA Tournament consolation game by a score of 5-3 last Friday. The loss put Evans as a No. 4 seed entering the state playoffs and means the Knights will travel 175 miles to Newnan, Ga. for their state tournament first-round series against Northgate.
As the Region 2-AAAA champions, Northgate entered the week ranked Class AAAA No. 4.
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