The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

High School Sports

May 29, 2014

Spartans a win away from states

— After pulling out a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Shady Spring in 11 innings Tuesday to clinch a spot in the Class AAA Region 3 championship game, Greenbrier East (17-7) spent Wednesday waiting.

The Spartans waited to see if Riverside and George Washington were going to get to play their region semifinal or if rain would wash it away for a second straight game. Then, when the tarp came off the field, they waited for a winner. And finally, after Riverside (18-10) secured a 1-0 victory, they waited to see exactly when the championship game, with a spot in the state tournament on the line, would be played.

It was late Wednesday night before the Spartans finally got the official word that they would be hopping on a bus today to travel to Quincy to take on the Warriors at 6:30 p.m.

Although the short notice might serve as an obstacle, East certainly has the firepower to make it back to the state’s big show at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston for the first time since 2011.

Both Jonathan Carr and Ethan Boone pitched in Tuesday’s victory, but sophomores Frank Ford and Colby Johnson have been solid on the hill for the Spartans, as well, giving them some options in today’s game.

“We had to go into Tuesday’s game thinking if we didn’t win it, the next one didn’t matter,” said head coach Scott Vogelsong, not giving away too much information on a possible pitching matchup. “But we’ll come up with a plan and be ready to play.”

Riverside had to use its ace, Cameron Norris, to get past GW Wednesday. He improved to 8-1 and picked up his 100th strikeout of the season in a three-hit shutout, but he’ll be unavailable for today’s game.

That’s good news for a Greenbrier East lineup that has three players hitting over .440.

Carr, a sophomore, leads that group with a .492 average, followed closely by freshman utility man Daylon Colley, who’s hitting .473. Johnson, also a sophomore outfielder, is hitting .446, and shortstop Tyler Canterbury, a junior, is knocking on the door of .400 at .393.

“I remember standing in center field (earlier this season), and telling them, ‘You guys are as good as you want to be, as long as you stay mentally focused,’” said Vogelsong, who is one win away from a state tournament appearance in his first season at the helm. “It’s going to come down to who makes the fewest mistakes. If something bad happens, we just have to come back and play our game.”

Riverside is capable of swinging the bats, as well. Trevor Smith leads the team with a .434 average, followed by Derik Chestnut at .429. Norris is almost as good in the batter’s box as he is on the mound, hitting .403.

Riverside enters today’s game on a seven-game winning streak.

— E-mail: chuffman and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

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