By Rick Ryan, For the Gazette-Mail
For a program that hadn’t appeared in regional play for 14 years, George Washington looked pretty sure of itself Tuesday evening.
Cameron Reed threw a five-inning two-hitter with four strikeouts and Isaac McCallister chipped in a pair of run-scoring singles as the Patriots plowed past Greenbrier East 10-0 at Floyd Wilcox Field in the opening game of their Class AAA Region 3 series.
Four different players drove in two runs apiece as GW grabbed a 6-0 lead by the second inning and coasted home.
“Clearly, we were ready to play today,’’ said Patriots coach Mike Davis, “and I’m proud of them for staying on the plan and sticking with it. Early in the game, putting those runs up, we kind of did what we needed to do and were just staying really disciplined. They played disciplined baseball and controlled their emotions.’’
Game 2 of the best-of-three series is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday at Greenbrier East. If necessary, the teams play the decisive game at 6 p.m. Thursday at GW. Regional winners advance to the state tournament, scheduled for June 2-4 at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston.
GW (18-15) didn’t exactly pound the ball early, getting three hits in the first two innings, but took control with its 6-0 lead.
Reed ripped a two-run single in the second after McCallister had an RBI single in the first for the Patriots. The other early tallies came on sacrifice flies by Kam Snyder and Bryson Hoff and a run-scoring groundout by Jaeden Anderson.
Before it was over, Reed, Anderson, McCallister and Snyder each had two RBIs. Abe Fenwick and Bryson Hoff donated doubles.
That was more than enough support for Reed, who allowed just one hit over the first four innings. Peyton DeHaven, the No. 9 hitter for the Spartans (16-16), picked up both of their hits.
“Cam did a phenomenal job of battling,’’ Davis said. “He didn’t have his curveball for a lot of the night, so he was relying mainly on his fastball, and even that was up and down. So for him to battle through — that’s a big thing for a pitcher, when you battle through and don’t have your best stuff.
“To have a two-hitter when you don’t have your best stuff, I can’t say enough about him being able to do that for us.’’
The Spartans had a chance to get back in the game after they fell behind 6-0 as they loaded the bases with none out in the top of the third on a walk to Ian Cline, a single by DeHaven and a hit by pitch for Darris Boswell.
With the top of the order up, Reed got consecutive grounders to third and first, with McCallister and then Tyler Smith firing home to get forceouts and keep East off the board. The inning ended with an unassisted putout at first by Smith.
Reed commended his teammates for their fielding and hitting support.
“All of our guys had the bats going,’’ Reed said. “It makes it a lot easier to pitch when you’ve got 10 runs, all those insurance runs. Makes it a lot easier.’’
Davis told Reed he would be making the Game 1 start about a week ago, and that was to Reed’s liking.
“I’ve known for a while,’’ Reed said, “so I’ve been studying over charts about this team. I just get more time to think and be more in my head. I’d much rather know in advance than just the day of [the game], and get out there and throw.’’
Davis figures to use either McCallister or left-hander Eli Ellis in Wednesday’s game as the Patriots seek their first state tournament berth since 2008. Despite the high stakes, Davis expects another solid effort from his squad.
“With this crew, they’ve been locked in,’’ Davis said, “so that we really weren’t [worried about nerves]. The discipline, the leadership they’ve shown over the last 21/2, three weeks of the season … as a coach, you watch your team and you understand where their heads are at. And we haven’t had a glimpse of that.
“Anything is possible. The first time in the regional final since 2008, hosting it, it’s a big deal for GW baseball. So really proud of the way they’re handling themselves. They’ve grown up a lot over the last two years, this core group of seniors.’’
Greenbrier East coach Cory Mann hopes his team can shrug off its mistakes in Tuesday’s opener, which included a balk and four errors that led to three unearned runs.
“That’s what we’ve been saying,’’ Mann said, “that it comes down to teams playing clean baseball, and they played a lot cleaner baseball than we did, and the score reflected it.’’
The Spartans used three pitchers Tuesday, but Mann said his staff was still in good shape.
“We managed the staff the way it needed to be managed,’’ he said. “We’ll be all right.’’
George Washington 10, Greenbrier East 0
Green. East – 000 00 – 0 2 4
George Wash – 240 4x – 10 6 0
Boswell, Patton (2), Wilson (4) and Sauls; Reed and Lively; Top hitters — GE: DeHaven 2-2; GW: Fenwick double; McCallister 2-3, 2 RBIs; Reed 2 RBIs; Anderson 2 RBIs; Snyder 2 RBIs; Hoff double