May 26, 2011
FAIRLEA — It will be a trip 40 years in the making.
Left fielder Ethan Level’s snag of a line drive at his ankles wrapped up Greenbrier East’s dominant 7-0 win over Capital Wednesday in the Class AAA Region 3 championship game.
The win sends the Spartans to the state tournament for the first time since 1971.
“It means the world,” first-year East coach Eric Morgan said. “I have never enjoyed coaching a bunch of kids as much as I enjoy these guys. This all started in the fall with the offseason. It’s not the long hours but how much the kids get out of the long hours.”
Not long after saying that, Morgan was given a traditional Gatorade bath by his players — his first ever.
Pitchers Harrison Martin and Clay Ayers combined to hold the Cougars to four hits and shut them out for just the second time this season.
Capital (18-10) was hitting .415 as a team going in.
But the Spartans took that away and also cut off the Cougars’ usual baserunning prowess. Martin got a key out in the second when he picked off Thad Carpenter, whom he had hit with one out.
In the fourth, J.C. Morrison singled with one out but was caught stealing on a bullet by East catcher Jacob Frantz.
Martin threw to first several times before finally catching Carpenter cheating toward second.
“I was trying to keep him close to the bag so, if he did try to steal, (Frantz) would have a chance to throw him out,” Martin said.
Leading 2-0, the Spartans (17-7) blew it open in the fourth with a two-out rally.
Kolten Renick walked, and Level and Frantz hit consecutive infield singles to load the bases. Travis King lifted a fly ball to shallow right that Jordan Adams made a sliding attempt for. But the ball popped off his glove, and all three runners scored to make it 5-0.
Renick was given new life during his at-bat when he hit a slow bouncer that the umpire ruled foul.
Ayers’ two-run single in the sixth made it a 7-0 game.
Martin allowed three hits while walking two and striking out two over 4 2/3 innings for the win. Ayers relieved with two on and two out in the fifth and wound up striking out two and walking two.
Tyler McClaskie hit a line drive to left with two out in the seventh, but Level made a catch at his shoetops. Ayers was met in front of the mound by King, and a mob ensued.
The Spartans will take on Fairmont at 10 a.m. Friday, June 3, at Appalachian Power Park.
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Greenbrier East 7, Capital 0
C: 000 000 0 — 0 4 3
GE: 020 302 x — 7 7 1
C: Jacob Good and J.C. Morrison; GE: Harrison Martin, Clay Ayers (5) and Jacob Frantz. WP — Martin. LP — Good. Hitting — C: Eric Stone 2-3, Morrison 1-3, Tyler McClaskie 1-2; GE: Ethan Level 2-4, Travis King 1-4 (2b, 3 rbi), Ayers 1-4 (2 rbi), Martin 1-2 (2b), Frank Ormsbee 1-3 (2b).
Records: C: 18-10; GE: 17-7.