The speedy Evans center fielder usually sets the table from the leadoff spot for the Knights. After a brief slump and switch this past weekend, Nelson found himself in the No. 9 spot Monday.
Evans coach Ricky Beale said the move was designed to take some pressure off Nelson. The senior appeared relaxed Monday, finishing with three hits and driving in the go-ahead runs to help Evans beat Harlem 10-3 at Lake Olmstead Stadium.
"I was more confident after I got the first hit," Nelson said. "We just had a positive vibe from our whole team, and that helped my confidence."
Nelson drove in five runs. His sharp, bases-loaded single in the sixth scored two and gave Evans the lead for good. He scored two more with a seventh-inning single.
Bulldogs coach Jimmie Lewis said last week he hoped his small ball approach would work in a big park. Before the Knights' outburst, Harlem had taken a one-run lead on a fifth-inning squeeze bunt. Harlem starter Derek Beasley, stellar through five innings, left after the Bulldogs' troubled sixth.
"We just lost it," Beasley said. "I don't know. We just kind of fell apart in the sixth."
The county rivals met at the home of the Augusta GreenJackets through a deal the minor league program proposed to area high schools. Evans and Harlem combined to sell close to 300 tickets, GreenJackets employee Emily McDonald said.
A light rain fell throughout the first couple of innings, but the weather was otherwise cooperative.
To open the doubleheader, Grovetown beat Hephzibah 10-2 behind a huge fifth inning.
The first-year Warriors (4-6, 4-3 Region 3-AAAA) start freshmen at several key positions. Coach Mike Jones said the goal remains becoming one of the region's four teams in the state playoffs.
"The more we play together, the better off we'll be," Jones said. "I couldn't ask anything more from the kids."
Grovetown scored eight during the fifth to blow the game open. Freshman pitcher Hunter McBride weathered a tough start to shut down the Rebels over the final four innings. He struck out seven and allowed only one base runner after Hephzibah scored twice during the third.
"I trusted my teammates," McBride said. "And coach Jones gave me a little pep talk."
McBride also doubled and scored twice.