Johns Creek rode a dramatic victory to a doubleheader sweep Wednesday night.
The Gladiators scored two in the eighth and then held on for a 3-2 victory over Greenbrier in the opening contest. Then, Johns Creek jumped out front early and claimed the nightcap 13-3 to win the second-round matchup in the Class AAAAAA Tournament.
The Gladiators advance to play the Allatoona-Effingham County win in the third round Wednesday. Greenbrier finishes its season at 23-9.
“Game One just took the wind out of our sails,” Wolfpack coach Jason Osborn said. “We tried to make a comeback, but we just couldn’t recover.”
Greenbrier loses two seniors – Garrett Marchman and Eric Jenkins – who played on the school’s last state title team in 2015. The Wolfpack will return several key players next season.
“We gave it a good run with a young team,” said Osborn, whose team won the Region 3-AAAAAA title this season. “We’ve got a lot of holes to fill. I want to see them get in the weight room , get a little bigger, a little stronger.”
In Game 1, Greenbrier starter Bryce Melear struck out six batters the first three innings. He pitched into the eighth, striking out 13 batters in the contest. He allowed just three hits, but he took the hard-luck loss.
In the first inning, Greenbrier’s John Waters was thrown out at home on a grounder to third for the first out. Later in the inning, Parker Sewell hit a two-out RBI single to score Eric Jenkins from third for the Wolfpack’s first run. Greenbrier left the bases loaded to end the inning.
Johns Creek threatened in the fourth when Chaz Bertolani hit a pop that Hayden Harrison backed up into short center to get. The ball bounced off his glove, allowing the Gladiators their first base runner. Carter Phillips followed with a walk. Melear followed with his eighth strikeout of the game, punching out Will Mangum. Melear then caught Brandon Crews looking to strike out the side and end Johns Creek’s rally.
The Gladiators finally broke through in the sixth, though, when Cole Neuber hit a game-tying solo blast – his team’s first hit. In the eighth, Matt Gravely hit a two-run single to give Johns Creek a 3-1 lead.
Greenbrier tried to battle back. Waters and Jenkins led off the bottom of the eighth with singles. Later, Matthew Chester delivered a two-out single to pull the Wolfpack within one. That’s as close as Greenbrier, which left the bases loaded twice, would get.
In Game 2, Johns Creek scored two runs in the first inning and added seven more in the second to jump out to a large lead. In those two frames, Greenbrier committed four errors.