SANDERSVILLE, Ga. – Josh Wolfe confessed.
“I was a little nervous, but I think it’s natural,” the Brentwood pitcher said. “You’re supposed to be a little nervous.”
Then he watched Windsor’s Caleb Shipp belt a home run in the first inning.
But Wolfe settled down, retiring 10 consecutive Windsor batters during one stretch as Brentwood (30-1) took advantage of defensive problems to post a 3-1 win Friday in the first game of the GISA Class AA baseball championship series.
The teams battle again at noon today with Game 3 to follow if necessary.
Wolfe faced Windsor (21-8) in April, a game the Eagles won 9-0.
“I pretty much did what worked last time, and adjusted on what didn’t work,” Wolfe said. “I left a lot of changeups over the plate the first time.”
He didn’t do much of that this time around.
Shipp drilled a 1-0 pitch over the wall in center to give Windsor a 1-0 lead in the first, and the Knights followed with two singles only for Wolfe to induce a popup and groundout.
Brentwood’s offense countered in the second to tie it.
Wolfe was hit by a pitch and stole second. Two outs later, he scored on Colton Everett’s single to left.
Brentwood’s defense came up big in the third. Center fielder Eric Smith fielded the ball on Jo Jo Barnes’ single and threw a strike to catcher Austin Archer to nail Shipp at the plate.
Windsor pitcher John Whitsel (9-3) was getting out of trouble, stranding two Eagles’ runners in the third and getting aid in the fourth when a rundown erased a leadoff runner. He gave up five hits, one less than Wolfe.
But Wolfe was avoiding trouble altogether.
After Shipp was gunned down at the plate, Wolfe sat down the next 10 Knights, striking out the side in the fifth.
“I felt stronger as it went on,” said Wolfe, who improved to 8-0. “The more innings I got under my belt, the better I felt.”
It was just another strong effort.
“He’s been solid for us all year,” Brentwood coach Brannon Bonifay said. “We knew he was going to give us a good outing. He got his groove probably about the third inning, so from there on, we had a lot of confidence in what he was doing.”
The fifth was when Brentwood took over.
Archer reached on an error and advanced when Smith beat out a bunt. Archer went to third on Garrett Riggs’ fly to right.
Then Scott Hall rolled one to first. First baseman Ryan Bowden caught it and tagged the bag, but threw home, apparently thinking that Archer was coming. He wasn’t, until the throw bounced away. Third baseman Barnes hustled to get the carom and threw home, but it hit Archer, who scored.
All of that allowed Smith to reach third, and he strolled home on Wolfe’s hit to right.
“You can’t let good teams have those extra outs and those extra opportunities,” Windsor coach Ricky Worsham said. “That’s what we did, and they took advantage.”
John Whitsel survived another error, on a leadoff batter, to get out of the sixth. Peyton Kell stroked a one-out single in the top of the seventh, but the game ended on a 4-3 double play when Everett caught a sinking liner and doubled Kell at first.