Nolan Belcher sat in the Greenbrier dugout Saturday, his left arm soaking in a bucket of ice water.
It was the arm that had tossed a perfect five-inning game the day before, and the arm that just completed a four-inning save.
Belcher started and finished the Wolfpack's first round Region 3-AAAA playoff series win against Ware County, shutting out the Gators during Friday's first game and holding them off to win the rubber game 8-3 Saturday.
Greenbrier senior Mitchell Knox started and went three innings Saturday before he was replaced by Belcher for the remainder of the game.
"I was just trying to go in and hold them," Knox said. "I didn't want it to be our last game."
With the win, Greenbrier earned a state playoff berth and a chance to defend its back-to-back Class AAAA state titles.
Belcher rested during the second game Friday night. Ware County took advantage of his absence with a come-from-behind 10-8 win.
The left-hander had the option of starting Saturday's third game.
He told fellow senior lefty Knox to go ahead, that he'd come in if Knox ran into trouble.
"My arm felt good," Belcher said. "I knew I'd be able to pitch."
Belcher entered to start the bottom of the fourth inning with the Wolfpack leading 5-2. He allowed seven hits and balked in a run. He also hit a batter.
The Wolfpack earned a playoff berth, however.
"I wasn't throwing 100 percent," he said. "I was trying to work my spots."
The Gators countered by bringing in Jed Thigpen, who pitched a complete game in Ware County's win in the second game.
Thigpen and Belcher both showed signs of having pitched the day before, but it didn't appear that Holder or Gators coach James Conoly considered holding their aces during the final game.
"They're both highly competitive," Conoly said. "You can tell they both want the ball when they see that it could help."
Evans gets to playoff
Evans played host to Glynn Academy to open the Region 3-AAAA and won its first two games to secure a state playoff spot and advanced to play Statesboro in the region semifinals.
Knights pitcher Kevin Millward threw a complete game as Evans took the first game, 5-3.
Teddy Leverett started the nightcap for the Knights, and they rolled, 13-3.
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