Monday's Georgia/Georgia Tech baseball game was about as big as it gets. The entire season was hanging in the balance as the two squads squared off in the regional final in Athens.
It was the fifth time the two have met in 2008. Not only was the game sold out, but it was also televised.
Well, with their entire season on the line, former Greenbrier standouts Jeff Rowland (Ga. Tech) and Rich Poythress (UGA) did all they could to help their teams win. Rowland singled and scored in a five-run first inning as the Jackets appeared to be ready to head to the Super Regional, but after that inning it was all Dogs.
Georgia put 18 runners across the plate in an 18-6 win and locked up their spot among the final 16 teams in college baseball. Poythress, a first baseman, once again came up big for Georgia when their backs were against the wall. The slugger homered for a third straight game and would finish 2-for-3 with a homer, a double, two walks, two runs scored, and three RBI. That gave Poythress nine RBI in the final three games of the regional. For his efforts he was selected to the All-Regional Team and was second in the voting for regional MVP.
A third Greenbrier alum was featured Monday as well. Unfortunately, freshman pitcher Brandon Cumpton suffered his first loss of the season. Cumpton came in after Yellow Jackets starter Zach Von Tersch was yanked after one inning. Cumpton struggled as well. He surrendered five hits and five runs (only three were earned) and walked two batters in two innings of work. Cumpton faced Poythress in the second and walked his former teammate.
For the Jackets, the 2008 season comes to an end after a 41-21 record, but Cumpton and Rowland should each be proud of their freshman campaigns.
The fleet-footed Rowland finished second on the team with a .335 batting average. He also scored 47 runs, had eight doubles, drilled four homers, drove in 26 runs and swiped 22 bases.
Cumpton fizzled a bit late in the season, but he too had his moments as a freshman, appearing in 14 games, including five starts. He was fifth on the team in starts and innings pitched (46.1). He also posted a winning record at 2-1 and struck out 40 batters in his 46 innings. The loss is something Cumpton is not accustomed to. He went 25-2 over his final two seasons with the Wolfpack with 178 strikeouts in 132 innings and an impressive 1.63 ERA.
As for the Dogs, they advance to play host to North Carolina State (as I prepare this column) in the Super Regional with the winner advancing to Omaha, Neb., for the College World Series. Georgia now stands at 39-22-1 despite playing one of the toughest schedules in the country.
One of the key reasons for the Dogs success has been the play of Poythress. Not only has he been a terrific source of protection batting cleanup behind UGA star Gordon Beckum (SEC Player of the Year and a finalist for National Player of the Year), but Poythress has put up some pretty lofty numbers as well.
Heading into the Super Regional, Poythress is hitting .364 with 15 homers and 64 RBI. He placed second on the team to Beckum in each category. He also has 19 doubles, a .455 on-base percentage, and is slugging at a .641 clip.
To say that Poythress has helped his cause for next year's Major League Baseball Draft would be an understatement. After the way he dominated Great Plains League pitching last summer, and his emergence this spring for the Dogs, he seems to be headed for a spot in the top three rounds. Either way, he certainly has made Greenbrier and UGA fans proud.
Machovec, Madebach headed to the NCAA Championships
Congrats are in order for Augusta Christian products who now attend UGA. Israel Machovec and Sarah Madebach recently were named to the NCAA All-East Region Team following their performance a the NCAA East Regional in Tallahassee, Fla. Machovec, a sophomore, throws the discus for the 24th ranked Bulldogs, while Madebach is a long-distance running specialist.
Machovec placed fourth at the East Regional with a throw of 177 feet. That performance also earned him an automatic bid to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which will be held June 11-14 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Madebach, a senior, is closing out a sensational college career with the Dogs. She also will participate in the NCAA Championships after her fourth-place finish in the 3000-meter steeplechase. Good Luck to those two terrific young athletes.
Wednesday's column listed The News-Times ' All-County Team with two errors: Greenbrier High School pitcher Harrison Brawley's grade was incorrect. Brawley is a sophomore. Also, in the Honorable Mention category, Chaston Weaver's grade was incorrectly listed. Weaver is a senior at Lakeside High School. The News-Times regrets the error.
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