Greenbrier routs Saints in state semis

Published 10:35 pm Thursday, May 14, 2009

PETERSBURG – Greenbrier Christian proved its dominance over Nansemond-Suffolk on the baseball diamond one more time Thursday in the VIS State Tournament semifinals.

The Gators, adding to 12-3 and 16-0 wins during the regular season over the Saints, needed only five innings and a 13-1 result to reach Saturday’s state championship game. Greenbrier Christian, the top seed in VIS Division II and the two-time defending state champs, improves to 26-1.

NSA head coach Michael Curry acknowledges and gives credit to how good the Saints’ annual conference nemesis is, and credits his own club for reaching the state semifinals, but he was disappointed in Thursday’s game.

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“We accomplished a lot this year for the history of our program, but it’s just getting past the idea of playing against Greenbrier. We’ve got to challenge them,” said Curry.

“(Greenbrier Christian) is an excellent team, but all I’m worried about is the way we play. In three games this season, Greenbrier has yet to see Saints baseball. That’s the disappointing thing as a coach.”

NSA fell behind 4-0 in the first inning after starting pitcher Codi Oliver walked four of the first five hitters he faced. Three of the four walked Gators came around and scored. Walks, errors and wild pitches added fuel to a Greenbrier Christian offense which needs no help at all.

Oliver and Isaac Ballou, who relieved Oliver to start the fourth inning, combined for eight walks. By the scorebook, the Saints committed four errors, but Curry counted three more mental errors by the Saints in the field.

The Gator bats took full advantage as leadoff hitter James Taylor had two runs and two RBI, Josh Miller reached base and scored with all three of his plate appearances and seventh-place hitter Conrad Coffman was 2 for 2 with three RBI.

The Saints had Ballou and Oliver reach base with two outs in the top of the first, but Mike Bradshaw grounded out to third.

The scoring chance in the first was the best NSA mustered until the top of the fourth. With the bases loaded a two outs, Christian Upchurch was hit with a pitch to make it 11-1. GC’s Christian McDonald struck out Michael Coburn to end the inning. McDonald finished with a three-hitter and five strikeouts.

Oddly, NSA’s season doesn’t come to a close with a loss in the state tournament. Last week’s constant rain washed out nearly all of the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools Tournament, but the tournament will be picked up again next week.

Nansemond-Suffolk (16-7), the No. 3 seed, hosts No. 7 Hampton Roads Academy on Monday at 4 p.m. in a semifinal game.

Along with the chance at the conference title, two more factors should provide a lot of motivation for the Saints. One, HRA defeated the Saints earlier this season in Newport News; and two, a win Monday would most likely give NSA another chance to face Greenbrier Christian.

“Getting another chance against HRA is about redemption,” said Curry, “and on Tuesday, (Greenbrier Christian) needs to see a different team, a team that wants to challenge them. Losing to the same team four times in a row is unheard of, it’s unacceptable.”