Greenbrier High School's baseball team has had plenty of success in recent years. The defending state champions are riding a 25-game winning streak, and will face Marist in the Class AAAA state semifinals Monday.
Much of the credit goes to the dominant pitching and clutch hitting efforts from players such as junior Nolan Belcher and seniors Brandon Cumpton, Damien Lucree, Jeff Rowland and Russ Winter.
First-year head coach Rodney Holder also deserves some of the credit along with his assistant coach Chip Fulmer and the rest of the staff and team.
Still, there remains a couple of Wolfpack supporters even further behind the scenes - Garrett Black and Chip Warren.
By day, they're Greenbrier coaches. Black, the assistant athletics director, has led the softball and girls basketball programs to unprecedented success. Warren has done the same with the boys soccer program.
Then there's their other job: Greenbrier baseball scouts.
"I'm glad we don't have to give them frequent flier miles," Holder said. "They've been all over the state."
Holder said the work of his scouts made a huge impact in Greenbrier's sweep over Class AAAA No. 7 Woodland in last week's state quarterfinals series. The visiting Wildcats brought with them pitching ace Nathan Vineyard. The senior is expected to go in the first three rounds of June's Major League Baseball Draft, but Greenbrier's hitters lit him up for six earned runs on 10 hits.
"We were in a situation where we got a great scouting report," Holder said. "We knew we had to battle and take what he was going to give you. If you're patient he could make a mistake or two, but you just had to wait on it."
Greenbrier's Russ Winter and Nick Page did just that in Game 1 against Vineyard. Winter launched a two-run home run in the fourth inning to break a scoreless tie. Page followed with a similar blast in the fifth. Before the game was over, eight different Wolfpack batters had hits off the Woodland ace.
As important as the scouting report was to the win, Black and Warren would never admit it.
"We don't want any credit," Black said. "It's the kids. They're the ones who have to make the adjustments."
Still, the scouts have traveled all over the state of Georgia this year from as far north as Tunnel Hill, in the shadow of Chattanooga, Tenn., to Thomasville, a small town less than 15 miles from the Florida line.
"I thought we'd never get there," Black said.
They did, and in part because of it, Greenbrier got to the Class AAAA state semifinals. The No. 2 ranked Wolfpack will face No. 3 Marist in a double-header starting at 2 p.m. Monday with a chance at a return trip to the state finals. Game 3, if necessary, would be at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
Greenbrier beat Marist earlier this year 3-1 in a spring break game played at the University of Georgia that saw Belcher and junior Pat McGowan combine for the win. Belcher gave up three hits in three innings of shutout ball, while McGowan allowed one unearned run on two hits through four innings of work.
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