Originally created 06/04/06

Greenbrier wins fourth state title

It all happened the way it was supposed to be.

Greenbrier won its fourth state baseball title Saturday by sweeping Marist in two games, with 3-1 and 10-0 victories for the Class AAAA title.

The second result was the 16th time in 36 games the Wolfpack won a game by 10 or more runs.

It was supposed to be like this for senior Chris Johnson. The senior crushed three home runs and drove in six runs in the series, completing his comeback after missing all of last season with torn ligaments in his left knee.

"Losing my knee and losing all last season being hurt makes this ultimate victory that much sweeter," Johnson said. "So much."

Johnson's first home run of the second game was a two-run shot that put his club up 5-0. The second was a three-run blast for a 10-0 lead. That was more than enough for starter Brandon Cumpton, who threw a three-hit shutout.

Johnson watched his first home run soar without leaving the batter's box, much to the chagrin of the home-plate umpire. He flipped his bat on the second home run mere moments after he pulled a hanging curve well over the wall in right.

Both were on the first pitch.

"I just wanted to watch that first one a bit," Johnson said. "It feels good to hit a ball like that."

Johnson crushed a pitch in the first game way past the fence in center that's marked off at 358 feet.

"I can't remember a ball that was ever hit that far here," Greenbrier coach Ed Williams said. "It's one of the longest we've ever had here, for sure."

And Johnson, who seemed like he spent all day trying to hit a ball into the retention pond about 100 feet past the fence, was the first one to take a championship dip.

A group of at least 50 students joined the players in sprinting across the field, vaulting over the outfield fence and watching the boys take a victory lap.

"It's Greenbrier tradition," senior Rich Poythress said. "That's what we do when we win a championship. We go take a jump in the pond out back behind our field."

Even that was meant to be. That's where the rains that washed out Friday's games came in.

"It was dry the other day I believe," Johnson said. "I guess God rained it out on Friday so we'd have a pond to jump in."

The waters went almost neck deep to some players.

"It stinks out there, but it still felt so sweet," Greenbrier senior Rafeal Parks said.

It was how it was supposed to be for Williams. He is hanging up his ballcap to take an assistant principal's position at the school.

"It's bittersweet because I am moving on and this was my last game," Williams said, clearly misty-eyed. "It's been known for a while. But just looking at all these people celebrating this. It's going to be tough not to miss all of this."

Greenbrier finished with a record of 35-1. Its only loss was a 7-5 setback in the state quarterfinals in a game in which the Wolfpack committed eight errors.

"I would have never thought 35 wins and one loss," Johnson said. "This is all like the very best kind of dream. Doing this for Coach. Doing this for my family. I just want to soak it all in."

Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or jeff.sentell@augustachronicle.com.

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