Fairlea – The three games between Greenbrier East and George Washington this season have all gone the way of the home team.
Wednesday night the Patriots bucked that trend at the most opportune time.
Needing one win to secure only the second trip to the state baseball tournament in school history, George Washington punched its ticket to the big dance with an 8-2 win over Greenbrier East at Spartan Yards.
“I am just unbelievably proud of this group of kids. We have always had this goal in mind for GW baseball. We want to be in the state tournament. That is always what we expected here,” George Washington head coach Mike Davis said. “We have taken it on the chin a number of years from St. Albans and they have had some really good teams. We were finally able to get over the hump against a well-coached Greenbrier East team. To be able to do it in the fashion that we did, all the credit goes to these (players).”
The visitors struck quickly putting Greenbrier East in an early hole.
Isaac McCallister launched a two-run home run over the right field fence for a 2-0 lead just three batters into the game.
Then with two outs, George Washington hit four straight singles to score two more runs. Before the Spartans swung the first bat, they trailed 4-0.
“We haven’t swung it well the last two nights and they pitched well,” Greenbrier East head coach Cory Mann said. “Any time you give them the lead and you’re trying to battle back and not swinging it well, it makes it tough.”
Two critical errors by the home team in the next two innings helped the Patriots push the lead to 7-0.
After a lead-off single from Cameron Reed, Jaeden Anderson dropped a sacrifice bunt. When the throw got away, GW had runners at second and third with no outs.
The Spartans only surrendered one run on a sacrifice fly, but they would not be so fortunate the following inning.
“All year we have talked about playing clean baseball and we weren’t able to do that last night or tonight. That is kind of what happened,” Mann said. “They are a good team and they hit the ball really well. Give them credit because they out-played us two nights in a row.”
Joe Lively opened the third inning with a double which was followed by a hard liner to right by Bryson Hoff.
The ball was misplayed into a three-base error scoring Lively. Hoff later scored on a wild pitch for the seven run advantage.
“That is what we are always preaching. Pressure, pressure, pressure,” Davis said. “Whatever you can do. Small ball, line drives, whatever needs to be done. They do that.”
While the Patriots were busy building the lead, starting pitcher Eli Ellis was keeping the Spartans at bay on the mound.
Through four innings, Ellis allowed just two hits and one run.
“Tonight we were able to get some bunts down at some key opportunities and put pressure on them defensively,” Davis said. “Eli was phenomenal and Isaac (McCallister) coming in to shut the door. You feel like you are in a pretty good position, but you still had to go out and do it.”
After splitting two tight games in the regular season, George Washington made the postseason wins look much easier.
“The way this team has handled themselves is just unbelievebale with all of the growing pains. I can’t say enough about them. The preparation and work that my assistant coaches have put in is elite. We were just really, really prepared,” Davis said. “We played a gauntlet of a schedule and this is the first team that really bought into the fact that it would prepare them for these tough environments. We don’t shy away from playing people. They bought in to playing good, clean, disciplined baseball and doing the right things.”
George Washington will play its first state tournament game since 2008 Friday night. The time will be determined by the seeding which is still to be announced.
“We are going on year seven (as coaches). Everybody thinks they can win a title, but we really think we can be with the top four teams in (Class) AAA each year,” Davis said.”