EVANS — Greenbrier coach Chris Wilkins really didn’t want his No. 1-ranked Wolfpack to have to play a third game against South Forsyth in the second round of the Class AAAA baseball state playoffs.
So when Clint Hardy drilled a two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning Thursday, all but winning the game, it was special for a few reasons.
“My wife is giving birth tomorrow, and I just want to be a dad tomorrow,” Wilkins said. “It was tough to conceal my emotions.”
The Wolfpack (26-2) added another run after Hardy’s homer and won the second game of the doubleheader 5-2, after a 4-1 win in the opener, sweeping the War Eagles (20-10).
The Wolfpack’s aces — Jordan Hunt and Austin Robinson — both came through with complete games.
“We had a lot more opportunities to score runs than we did, and unfortunately a couple of things didn’t fall into place,” South coach Russ Bayer said.
“We had a few miscues in terms of baserunning and bunting, but aside from that, the initial game could have been very different.”
In Game 1, Hunt (8-0) walked one and gave up two hits in the first inning as the War Eagles jumped on top 1-0, but he allowed just one more hit the rest of the way and finished with six strikeouts.
Hunt was tough at the plate as well with three hits and three RBI. His first-inning double in Game 1 gave the Wolfpack a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish. He also hit a first-inning single in Game 2 that gave the Wolfpack an early 1-0 lead.
In Game 2, Robinson (9-0) battled for nine innings, his third extra-innings win of the season. He struck out eight and had great defensive play behind him.
In three-consecutive innings, second baseman Connor Hoover started two double plays and made a diving stop behind second base to get a force out to end the inning. In the sixth inning, first baseman Adam Grice made a diving grab of an attempted suicide squeeze and threw to third to complete the inning-ending double play and saved a run.
The War Eagles rallied from a 2-0 deficit and tied the second game 2-2, but couldn’t seal the win in the seventh despite having runners on first and second with no outs.
“Coach Wilkins did a great job of calling pitches and getting outs when they did to force extra innings,” Bayer said.
Greenbrier will play host to Marist, which defeated Mundy’s Mill, on Tuesday.
South’s season is complete. The War Eagles lose five seniors to graduation in the spring.
“I was extremely proud of these kids,” Bayer said.
“There’s a very good chance that we lost to the eventual state champion and gave them one heck of a run for their money.
“It’s just unfortunate that we met up in the second round. I think if we had fallen in a different bracket, we still might be playing.”