Corey Mann’s goal at Greenbrier East was to build a sustainable program.
A sectional title this season would go a long way towards doing so.
Mann guided the Spartans to a 16-4 regular season record this year and now hopes to deliver East its second sectional championship since 2017.
Fortunately for the No. 1-seeded Spartans they’ve shown throughout the regular season they’re the best team in their section, but the postseason is a different ball game.
East went 5-0 against sectional opponents this year, beating Oak Hill once and Beckley and Princeton twice.
They’ve won on walk-offs, they’ve won in blowouts, so winning close or winning comfortably has prepared them well.
Of course they also do well in multiple phases of the game.
Darris Boswell leads them team in hitting with a scorching .450 batting average while Chris Heaster, Logan Carr and Jordan Mize come in at .377, .388 and .379, respectively.
On the mound the team has an ERA of 2.75 with Caleb Thomas leading the way. Thomas has struck out 44 batters in 32 innings this year, posting a stellar 0.85 ERA and holding opponents to a .190 batting average.
But the section will be far from a cakewalk for the Spartans.
Their final two games of the regular season were against sectional foes Beckley and Oak Hill and were too close for comfort. The Spartans needed to score two runs in the bottom of the seventh for a walk-off win against Beckley and played a tight 3-1 game against the Red Devils in Fairlea.
As for the Red Devils, they’ve had a few bright spots, beating Class AA Shady Spring 6-3, but have been up and down with losses to Class AA Wyoming East and Class A Midland Trail.
Beckley (7-16) comes in as the No. 3 seed and has played better of late but has still struggled. The Flying Eagles have lost nine straight games coming into Tuesday’s tournament, several of them on heartbreakers. Greenbrier East won the aforementioned game by scoring two in the bottom of the seventh while Princeton scored seven straight to tie Beckley at 7-7, beating the Flying Eagles on a walk-off in the seventh.
They led Shady 9-8 after three innings but couldn’t stop the Tigers from scoring in the following four innings in an 18-10 loss on May 27.
Princeton lost 12 straight at one point in the season and enters the sectional tournament with a 1-5 record against sectional foes. The Tigers lost both games to East by double digits and 10-1 to Oak Hill, but have fared well against Beckley. They lost 5-2 to the Flying Eagles, but secured the aforementioned win against them on May 24, adding a boost of confidence should the two teams meet in the loser’s bracket.
The Class AAA Region 3, Section 2 tournament will begin on Tuesday with the higher seeds hosting each game.
Region 3, Section 2
All games start at 6 p.m. at the higher seed’s venue
Tuesday, June 1
Game 1: No. 4 Princeton at No. 1 Greenbrier East
Game 2: No. 3 Beckley at No. 2 Oak Hill
Wednesday, June 2
Game 3: Game 1 loser (Princeton/East) vs. Game 2 loser (Beckley/Oak Hill)
Game 4: Game 1 winner (Princeton/East) vs. Game 2 winner (Beckley/Oak Hill)
Thursday, June 3
Game 5: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser
Friday, June 4
Game 6: Game 5 winner vs. Game 4 winner
Saturday, June 5
Game 7: If necessary