COLUMBUS, Ga. - There were no protests, no appeals and certainly no thunderstorms to interrupt play.
Greenbrier's magic ended Friday afternoon in the Class AAAA state baseball playoffs at Shaw High School. The Raiders pulled off the semifinal series sweep of the Wolfpack with a 4-1win in Game 1, followed by a 3-0 shutout in Game 2.
Shaw's victory sets up an all-Columbus final. The Raiders will meet defending Class AAA champion Columbus, which swept Jones County in the other semifinal.
The Wolfpack, who had dodged bullets throughout the state playoffs, finally got shot down.In Game 3 of the first-round series with Jordan, Robert Davis' three-run homer in the seventh inning followed a 26-minute lightning delay and propelled the Wolfpack to an 8-7 win to advance. Greenbrier qualified for the semifinals after winning a protest claiming an ineligible Heritage player took part in Game 3 of the second-round series.
"I'm proud of these kids for what they did this year," Greenbrier coach Ed Williams said. "Nobody can question this team's character and what this team has done. There were so many people that had a part in this season, and that is what's so great about it."
The concept that good pitching always beats good hitters held true Friday. Shaw pitchers Steven Register, Edwin Jackson and Nick Long allowed the Wolfpack just one run in the doubleheader and surrendered just seven hits.
Register, who has signed with Auburn, worked the corners of the plate in Game 1 like a magician and had a no-hitter through 6 1/3 innings. Ben Tankersley's single up the middle in the seventh broke up Register's bid.
The senior lost his shutout when Tankersley scored on Alan Cannell's fielder's choice.
In Game 2, Jackson and Long weren't as overpowering as Register. However, the duo's shutout might have been just as impressive, as the two worked out of three jams with runners in scoring position.
Jackson, who will play for Alabama-Birmingham next season, picked up the victory, while Georgia-bound Long earned the save after working the final three innings.
The Wolfpack had a chance to earn a split in the series and force Game 3, stranding 11 baserunners in the second game.
"They've got some very good pitchers ... that's obvious by where they're going," said Seth Newsome, who took the Game 2 loss. "But we didn't hit the ball. There's not much else to say. That's the bottom line."
Greenbrier (23-15) had its best chance to score in the first and second innings of Game 2. In the first, Bradley Key lined a double off the 20-foot high fence in center field, and Ben Tankersley was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second with no outs.
Jackson retired the next three batters to escape further damage.
In the second, Newsome walked with one out to load the bases before Jackson got an infield fly and a groundout to escape the bases-loaded jam.
Key and Register locked up in a pitcher's duel in Game 1, which lasted just an hour and 47 minutes. While Register received the glory for the victory, Key's performance was gutsy. Shaw's four runs came on back-to-back solo homers in the second by Long and John Brigman; Jackson's two-run shot in the fifth made it 4-0.
"We had some opportunities in that second game, but we couldn't get anything started," Williams said. "In that first game, they just shot us down. But I thought our pitching was good in that first game. They hit a couple of our mistakes. We got a couple of balls up, and they took advantage of our mistakes."
Greenbrier 000 000 1-1 1 1
Shaw 020 020 x-4 7 2
Bradley Key (L) and Robert Davis. Steven Register (W) and Jose Hernandez. 2B-Carlos Hughley (S). HR-Nick Long (S), John Brigman (S), Edwin Jackson (S). Leading hitters: Greenbrier, Ben Tankersley 1-3. Shaw, Hughley 2-3; Register 2-3.
Shaw 002 010 0-3 10 1
Greenbrier 000 000 0-0 6 0
Edwin Jackson (W), Nick Long (5, Sv) and Jose Hernandez. Seth Newsome (L), Alan Cannell (4) and Robert Davis. 2B-Bradley Key (G), Philip Tapley (G), Brandon Masters (S), Justin Newman (S), Chad Thornhill (G). HR-Steven Register (S). Leading hitters: Shaw, Newman 2-3, RBI; Sloan Burgess 2-4; Masters 2-4. Greenbrier, Thornhill 2-4; Davis 2-4. Records: Shaw 26-7-1. Greenbrier 23-15.
Reach Tim Morse at (706) 823-3216 or email@example.com.
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