When a large crew of Greenbrier High School baseball players hoisted another state championship trophy Friday, it was an image most Wolfpack fans have seen before.
Greenbrier knocked off Heritage in a two-game sweep to claim the 2007 Class AAAA state championship. It was the fifth state baseball title in 11 years for the Wolfpack squad.
As familiar as the scene was for baseball fans, several of the faces on the team were new.
"It feels a lot better when you've actually been playing," junior Ryan Cato said. "Last year it was tough sitting in the dugout. This year means a lot more for me."
Cato is one of many Greenbrier players who replaced some of last year's Wolfpack stars. Six of the nine starters from the 2006 state championship team weren't in the starting lineup this season. Cato took over at second base this year, and his two-for-three day at the plate in Game 2 of the state title series helped Greenbrier clinch another championship.
As a junior last year, shortstop Damien Lucree watched from the bench as the Wolfpack stormed to a 35-1 record. This season, Lucree started at shortstop, and his .700 batting average (14-for-20) in the state playoffs was crucial in Greenbrier's 10-0 state playoff record.
Lucree also drove in what proved to be the game-winning RBI on a sacrifice fly to score Nick Page in the sixth inning of Game 2 in the state finals. Greenbrier went on to win 3-2.
"This is so much better because I was out there on the field," Lucree said. "We lost everybody last year, and had to work so hard this year. It took everybody and everything we had, but we're No. 1 now."
Other bench players from last season's roster turned in all-star performances this year. Junior Patrick McGowan drove in four runs in a 10-3 win in Game 1 of the finals and designated hitter Adam King went two-for-three with an RBI single in Game 2.
"They did a lot for us this year," senior pitcher Brandon Cumpton said. "Especially hitting. They really came through in the clutch for us."
Greenbrier's regular stars were also key in the title win. Cumpton and fellow pitcher Nolan Belcher finished the year with only one loss each, and both threw complete-game wins in the finals.
Senior Jeff Rowland went two-for-two with an RBI in Game 1. Rowland, Cumpton, Lucree, King, catcher Russ Winter and third baseman Kyle Waddell were all senior starters who played their final game for the Wolfpack on Friday.
"To experience this twice is an amazing feeling," Winter said. "The whole team worked hard to pull this off."
Greenbrier finished the season with a 31-4 record and a 29-game winning streak.
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