Greenbrier was running out of at-bats, but then Chris Michals walked up to the plate.
Michals’ power surge continued Wednesday, when he blasted a three-run home run in the fifth that gave the Wolfpack baseball team the lead before he drove in two more with the bases loaded in Greenbrier’s 8-3 home win against Stephenson.
The win gave the Wolfpack the series and put them in the Class AAAAA state semifinals, which begin 4 p.m. Monday at home against Whitewater.
Greenbrier pitcher Connor Hogan was also clutch, not allowing a run after the third inning and giving up only four hits all game.
“These guys keep scrapping,” Wolfpack coach Jason Osborn said. “We’re going to be facing a good team in Whitewater and we’re going to have our hands full, but as long as we got a chance, we’ll see what happens.”
With Stephenson ahead 3-1 in the fifth, Michals was up with two on and two out. He quickly delivered his third home run of the series and handed the Wolfpack the lead for good.
“That guy hit a home run off us earlier,” Michals said about the pitcher, D.J. Neal. “I wanted to get a little bit of revenge off of that.”
Greenbrier later extended its advantage to five, with the Jaguars committing six errors from the fifth through seventh innings. One throw took a fielder off the bag, one bunted ball was mishandled and there were missed catches at third.
Despite all those errors, Greenbrier didn’t break the game open until Michals’ two-RBI single in the seventh. Prior to Michals’ hit, the Wolfpack were 0 for 5 with a walk in bases-loaded situations. But that finally changed.
On the mound, Hogan settled in following a 3-1 deficit. Keeping a speedy team off the bases, Hogan didn’t allow a base runner after the third. He also retired the last 13 hitters he faced, getting some help with the defense along the way. In the fifth, Third baseman Knox Marchman had a nice snag and throw to get the batter. An inning later, second baseman Nick Sandlin jumped up high to grab a liner.
“Connor stepped up big for us tonight,” Osborn said. “That’s probably his best outing all year.”