The task was simple for Lakeside: Beat Greenbrier and avoid falling into a three-way tie for second place in the Region 3-AAAA standings.
Or, Lakeside could lose to the Wolfpack on Friday night and take its chances, with first-place Statesboro visiting Monday afternoon.
The better scenario was beating Greenbrier.
Lakeside took advantage of two Greenbrier errors in the bottom of the sixth inning and rallied for a 4-3 victory to maintain sole possession of second place.
The victory makes Monday's game with Statesboro that much more important. The Blue Devils (16-2 overall, 10-0 Region 3-AAAA) handed Lakeside (12-6, 7-1) its only region loss earlier this season. A Lakeside victory over Statesboro could put the two teams in a tie for first place with two weeks left in the regular season.
In addition, the Panthers beat Greenbrier for the first time in school history Friday night.
"We weren't too worried about Statesboro tonight," Danny Ryan said. "This was Greenbrier. This was a big rivalry."
Greenbrier starter Bradley Key was hung with the loss, despite allowing only one earned run. None of Lakeside's three runs in the sixth was earned.
"That's happened before ... Bradley pitched a one-hitter and lost to Statesboro earlier this year," said Greenbrier coach Ed Williams, whose squad is 10-10 overall and 8-3 in the region. "He's a senior, and he knows this is his senior year. He's giving us everything he's got. He's not focused on what's happening after this year. He did everything he could do to help us out."
Key mastered Lakeside for the first five innings. In the bottom of the sixth, Mike Norland reached on an error before Brant Evans walked to put runners at first and second.
It appeared Key would pitch out the jam as he had for most of the game when he got a strikeout for the second out.
But Ryan singled up the middle to score pinch-runner Steven Lewis from second. However, when Greenbrier center fielder Philip Tapley attempted to throw out Evans at the plate, the ball sailed over the backstop.
Ryan took third on the throwand eventually scored on a passed ball for the game-winning run.
"This was one of those games when you look at the schedule, you highlight games with Evans, Harlem and Greenbrier," Lakeside starter Peter Alewine said. "We've been looking forward to this game for weeks. But we were focused on this game, and it'll give us confidence heading into Monday's game."
Greenbrier appeared in command until the sixth. Chad Thornhill smashed an Alewine curveball over the center-field fence for a 2-0 lead in the third.
The Wolfpack then made it 3-1 in the fourth inning on Ben Tankersley's RBI single.
Reach Tim Morse at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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