Two things awaited Bryce Melear after he was finished Monday night: tape and a bag of ice.
The Greenbrier sophomore scattered four hits in seven innings of work to pick up the shutout win as the Wolfpack defeated Lakeside, 5-0, in the opening game of their three-game series.
Greenbrier improved to 20-6 overall (10-3 Region 3-AAAAAA) and moved within a game of clinching the region title. Game 2 will be played at 5:55 p.m. Wednesday at Greenbrier, while Game 3 on Friday will also be held at Greenbrier after the teams decided to adjust the series schedule.
With the Wolfpack seeking their 16th region title, coach Jason Osborn said his team can’t let up.
“If we relax and think that all we have to do is win one more, we give them a shot to get right back in it,” he said. “We’ve got to have the best practice we’ve had this year when we practice tomorrow and be ready to go Wednesday. That team over there can very easily win two if we’re not ready. We can’t slip at all.”
Lakeside fell to 15-8 overall, 8-5 in region play. Despite the defeat, the Panthers can still win the region with two more wins this week.
“It’s tough to lose the first one, because it’s the only one we have at home,” Lakeside coach T.J. Davis said. “We still have two shots at them. We need to iron out a few things and get ready for Wednesday.”
Melear ironed out his own issues recently. He and coach Mark Turner have been working on his mechanics. Melear had been leaning back and falling off the mound incorrectly.
He had his stuff working against Lakeside. Melear kept Lakeside off balance for most of the contest, striking out seven and walking two.
“We’ve been working a lot,” Melear said. “It showed tonight.”
“He struggled his past two starts, but he trusted his stuff and threw strikes,” Osborn said. ” I’m very proud of that boy and the way he pitched tonight.”
Greenbrier opened the contest with walks from John Waters and Eric Jenkins. Garrett Marchman followed with a single to load the bases. Then, Hayden Harrison ripped a two-run single. Matthew Chester followed with an RBI single to push the lead to 3-0. The Wolfpack added runs in the fourth and the fifth.
Marchman and Chester each went 3 for 4 from the plate to lead Greenbrier, which collected nine hits.
Lakeside catcher Jacob Hardin recorded half of the Panthers’ hits, leading the team with his 2 for 3 effort.
Bryce Melear and Parker Sewell. Jordan Nacovsky, Zach Britt (5) and Jacob Hardin. W-Melear. L-Nacovsky.
Leading hitters: Greenbrier-Garrett Marchman 3 for 4, Matthew Chester 3 for 4. Lakeside-Hardin 2 for 3.
Records: Greenbrier 20-6 overall (10-3 region), Lakeside 15-8 overall (8-5 region). Next: Lakeside at Greenbrier, 5:55 p.m., Wednesday.