Originally created 05/14/98

Johnson key figure for 'Pack

Tony Smith has something that Jonathan Johnson wants.

But instead of fighting for a championship belt, they have been two of the key hitters for defending Class AAA state champion Greenbrier. Greenbrier (21-3) will meet Dalton in the Class AAA state baseball semifinals Friday at 1:30 p.m. Game 2 will follow 30 minutes after the first, and Game 3, if necessary, would be played Saturday.

Smith, a junior, was part of Greenbrier's 1997 Class AAA state title team that went 31-5 and finished No. 19 in the USA TODAY national rankings.

This year, Johnson, who did not make the varsity as a freshman last year, has led the Wolfpack's quest for a second state title. In his first four playoff games, Johnson is batting .846 (11-13) with five doubles, two home runs, six runs scored and 14 RBI.

He leads the Wolfpack in batting average (.471), doubles (11), home runs (eight) and RBI (40). In his first playoff game in a 9-8 win over Crisp County in Game 1 of the opening round series, Johnson went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a home run, two runs scored and five RBI. The sophomore drove in the game winning run in the bottom of the seventh.

Johnson also drove in five runs in Game 2.

"The first half of the season, I think he had some doubts on whether or not he belonged," Wolfpack coach Terry Holder said. "But in the second half of the season, Jonathan has come on and knows he belongs."

Smith also is hitting the ball well, particularly in the playoffs. The right fielder is batting .571 (8-for-14), with two doubles, a home run, four runs scored and seven RBI in four playoff games.

Against Henry County in the Class AAA state quarterfinals, Smith went 5-for-7 with two doubles, a home run, three runs scored and six RBI. He went 3-for-3 with a home run, double and three RBI in Game 2.

He's doing his damage despite a hamstring injury that will not be completely healed until after the playoffs.

"A little rest, getting some time off, helps it," Smith said. "It felt real good coming off a week's rest (vs. Henry County)."


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