Region 2-AAAAA rival Luella had just defeated the Wolfpack 4-0 on Friday night, and Wilkins said the Lions "were celebrating like they had won the World Series."
Wilkins is convinced his team will be motivated not to let this scene repeat. It will need to harness that motivation soon, because the Wolfpack have plenty to correct after their latest loss.
Luella starter Kelly Holt befuddled the Wolfpack for the second time this season, and Greenbrier's horrific bunt defense led to three Luella runs in the third inning. It was the first region loss for the Wolfpack (11-4, 6-1), who beat Luella 2-1 earlier in the season even though Holt threw a no-hitter.
The Lions now have the edge to the region title since they have defeated every team in the region. A win by Greenbrier, which has won a region title six of the past seven seasons, would have put it two games clear of everyone in the loss column.
Holt, a senior left-hander, didn't allow a hit until Wolfpack shortstop Ben Morgan led off the fourth with a single, which was Greenbrier's first hit against the Kennesaw State signee in 11 innings.
"He is a great pitcher, a Division-I pitcher, but I'm frustrated because we're better than that," said Wilkins, whose team had three hits.
Luella coach Andy Cooper pulled Holt with two on and no outs in the last inning. Holt had Tommy John surgery on Dec. 7, 2007, and is not allowed to exceed 90 pitches. The Wolfpack loaded the bases with two outs against reliever Josh Pape, but he struck out the last of the four batters he faced to end the game.
"Coming in here, I knew we could beat them after last time," said Holt, who estimated he threw a breaking ball at least every other pitch. "They're good hitters, but I was just able to keep them off balance."
The Wolfpack committed back-to-back errors in the third inning on bunt attempts. Each time, Wilkins said, they would have gotten the lead runner out. The last error loaded the bases with no outs, and Luella's D.J. Wilson smashed a ground-rule double to the right-center field gap for all the runs his team would need.
"That got them on their heels a little bit," Cooper said.
Another Greenbrier error allowed a runner to advance into scoring position in the fifth, and a seeing-eye single up the middle drove him in.
"We work on bunt defense more than we work on anything," Wilkins said.
The Wolfpack were playing for the first time in 11 days coming off spring break.
Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.