EVANS -- For most of the season, Greenbrier's Larry Luke has been the Wolfpack's main courtesy runner. It's a role that he accepted gladly.
Greenbrier baseball coach Terry Holder advised Luke to be patient because his time was coming.
All of Luke's hard work paid off Saturday as he scored the game-winning run on a passed ball in the bottom of the seventh to lift Greenbrier into the state championship for the second straight season with a 7-6 come-from-behind win against Dalton.
Madison County will be at Greenbrier in the championship series. Madison County turned back Jones County on Thursday 7-2 and 13-0. The day and time for the first game has not been decided.
"I didn't do much in the game, but coach (Holder) told me my time was coming," Luke said. "This was my chance right here. Every time I ran the bases, I ran them hard and it paid off."
But Luke wouldn't have got the chance if it wasn't for some heroics by first baseman Chris Parker. With one out in the inning and the momentum on Dalton's side, Dewayne Lowe drew a walk and Bradley Key singled to put runners on first and second. Parker promptly lined a single to center field that scored both Lowe and Key and tie the game at 6.
"We knew we could come back from behind," Parker said. "We're a good-hitting team. Tim (Fries) got up there (on the mound) and did a good job for us. We got two runners on base and I knew I could step it up and I got a big hit for us."
Dalton left-hander Vaughn Dickson, who mastered Greenbrier in Game 1, also mowed down the Wolfpack in the fifth and sixth innings before running into trouble in the seventh.
Dickson was lifted in favor of 6-foot-6 reliever Joey Westmoreland, who intentionally walked Lamar Leverett to put runners on first and second. A critical balk moved Luke, pinch-running for Parker, to third and Leverett to second before Westmoreland got a groundout for the second out of the inning.
Tony Smith then drew an intentional walk to load the bases before a passed ball slipped to the backstop with Will Anderson at the plate. Luke raced home from third with the winning run.
"I just saw the ball come out of the pitcher's hand and I thought I saw it going into the dirt," Luke said. "And before I knew it, I was already running toward home plate and sliding in. It's just a good feeling. There's no better way to finish the game like this. Having a close game and having a run slide in like this. I mean, I was very grateful for this. I just thank the Good Lord."
Greenbrier took a 1-0 lead to start the game when Lowe led off the game with a walk and scored on an error. However, Dalton rallied to tie the game at 1 in the third on an RBI single by Dalton's Nick Son.
The Wolfpack regained the lead in the fourth when it pushed three runs across the plate to take a commanding 4-1 lead. But Dalton rallied for five runs in the fifth, with the big blow a three-run homer by Dickson that cleared the center field fence.
Dickson, pitching on no rest, couldn't duplicate Friday's complete game performance that he won 3-1. Greenbrier's Anderson worked the first three innings before yielding to Fries in fourth. While Fries wasn't as sharp Saturday as he was Friday, he still pitched well.
Anderson said he knew the Wolfpack wouldn't quit.
"Every game can be won," he said. "You know anybody can beat anybody on any given day. We were down by two, we had home field advantage and it was up to us in that last inning. We just had to want it bad enough and that's what we did."
Dalton -- 0 0 1 0 5 0 0 -- 6 8 2
Greenbrier -- 1 0 0 3 0 0 3 -- 7 6 2
Jeremy Cox, Vaughn Dickson (5), Joey Westmoreland (7, L) and Michael Percy. Will Anderson, Tim Fries (4) (W, 1-0) and Zach Campbell. 2B -- Dewayne Lowe (G), Bradley Key (G), Will Anderson (G), Chris Parker (G). HR -- Dickson (D).
Leading hitters: Dalton -- Cox 2-2, Brian Harrison 2-4. Greenbrier -- Parker 2-4, 2 RBI; Key 2-4. Records: Dalton 27-6, Greenbrier 23-4. Next Game: Madison County at Greenbrier (Class AAA state championship), TBA.
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