Greenbrier Christian Captures Second Straight State Title



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By John Nolan
Assistant Director of Scouting/Content Management 

Colonial Heights-A wet afternoon a Shepherd Stadium played host to the 2016 VISAA Division II Championship game between the top seed and our No. 1 ranked Greenbrier Christian Academy and sixth-seeded No. 21 Atlantic Shores Christian. The Gators are the defending Division II State Champions, and entered the game looking to cap off a spectacular season and the career of Head Coach Gary Lavelle with another championship. Atlantic Shores tabbed senior ace Justin Towles for the start, coming off of a shutout in the quarterfinals. The Gators went with senior Sam Watson, who was the winning pitcher in the 2015 State Championship Game.

Atlantic Shores jumped out of the gate with upset on the mind as the Seahawks got things going fast with singles from sophomores Braxton Zivic and Jon Sawyers. After they were bunted into scoring position, Casey Turner drove in Zivic with a grounder to third and was safe when the throw got away. After Watson was able to get a second out via strikeout, junior catcher Austin Stevens ripped a double to the leftfield wall giving the Seahawks a 3-0 lead after the first inning.

Towles had some of his own issues early with the weather, hitting the first two batters of the game to create a quick jam for himself. He responded by getting a pair of strikeouts, the second of which was punctuated by Stevens hosing Watson at third for a strikeout-throw out double play to end the first.

Junior second baseman Jason Smith got things rolling again for the Seahawks in the top of the second inning, doubling to left center. Towles bunted him down to third and Zivic picked up his second hit of the game, driving Smith in to push the lead to 4-0 and chasing Watson from the game. The Gators turned to junior lefty Jason Hartline, who was able to get out of the inning without any more damage occurring. Towles got the Gators to go in order in the bottom of the second.

Shores’ bats stayed hot in the third inning as their first three hitters singled, with the only out that Hartline got coming via a pickoff. Greenbrier Christian went to the pen again, this time for junior Erik Stock (Old Dominion). Stock got a quick strikeout, and was about to escape the inning, but Jared Kercher stole third and the throw went into leftfield, allowing him to score and push the Seahawk lead to 5-0 midway through the third inning.

The Gator bats final woke up in the bottom of the third. Third baseman Cody Hart got the inning started with a walk and junior Conner Clark picked up the Gators’ first hit of the game. Watson then walked to load the bases with no outs. Greenbrier Christian got on the board with a Tyrin Everette sacrifice fly which was followed by a run-scoring single from Harry Brown (James Madison). Watson scored on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to 5-3. The inning would end there as Brown would be called for runner’s interference, creating an automatic double play.

With one out in the top of the fourth, Seahawk senior shortstop Tyler Humphrey doubled down the rightfield line. After Stock got Turner to strike out for the second out, junior designated hitter Niall Doherty singled to right, driving in Humphrey and pushing the Atlantic Shores lead back to three.

In the bottom of the fourth, Gator shortstop Carson Henry (Old Dominion) singled to left. He quickly moved to third as a pickoff throw got away down the rightfield line. Henry scored on Colton Wynn’s groundout to shortstop, and through four complete innings the score was 6-4.

The fifth inning was the lone inning all game that was rather uneventful, as Stock worked around a leadoff single to put up a zero and Towles threw a perfect bottom half of the inning. For velocities and scouting information on players in this game, check the Virginia/DC Scout Blog later this week.

The top of the sixth started ominously for the Gators as Sawyers was able to reach safely on a grounder to first when Stock mishandled the flip. Humphrey then sacrificed him over to second. With two outs, Doherty chopped a ball up the middle that Henry ranged far to his left to get, but his throw just pulled the first baseman off of the bag, allowing a hustling Sawyers to score all the way from second and extend the Atlantic Shores lead to 7-4.

Needing some momentum in the bottom of the sixth, Harry Brown provided a quick answer for the Gators as the Division II Player of the Year launched a leadoff home run to right center, cutting the deficit to 7-5. Stock drew a walk and Garrett Jones (Navy) lined out for the first out before Henry dropped his second hit of the game into rightfield. A walk to Wynn loaded the bases and brought an end to Towles’ outing. The Seahawks turned to sophomore Jon Sawyers, who was able to get Hart to line into a double play to end the inning.

Senior Colby Lee entered the game to pitch for the Gators, and worked a perfect seventh to get Greenbrier Christian up to the plate with one last chance to repeat as State Champions.

The inning started as Clark singled sharply to third base. Watson reached base for the third time with his second walk of the game. Tyrin Everette dropped a perfect bunt down the third base line, loading the bases with no outs for Harry Brown, who had homered in the previous inning. Sawyers dug deep and was able to strike out Brown for the first out. Sawyers then got to an 0-2 count on Erik Stock, before Stock stayed inside a ball and lined a double into right center, tying the game at seven. The Seahawks elected to intentionally walk Garrett Jones to set up forces at all bases, bringing up Carson Henry with the game on the line. After Sawyers went to 3-0, Henry lined the 3-1 pitch to the base of the leftfield wall, driving in Everette with the winning run, and completing the Gators’ comeback, capturing Coach Lavelle another State Championship in his final game with an 8-7 win.

Atlantic Shores
Zivic 2-4, R, RBI
Sawyers 1-4, 2 R
Humphrey 1-2, 2B, R, 2 SAC
Turner 0-3, BB, RBI
Doherty 1-4, RBI
Stevens 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI
Kercher 2-4, SB, R
Smith 2-4, 2B, R
Towles 0-3, SAC 

Towles 5 1/3 IP, 5 R, 5 H, 4 BB, 2 HBP, 2 K
Sawyers 1 IP, 3 R, 4 H, 2 BB, 1 K 

Greenbrier Christian
Watson 0-1, 2 BB, HBP, R
Everette 1-2, HBP, RBI, SAC
Brown 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI
Stock 1-3, 2B, BB, 2 RBI
Jones 0-3, BB
Henry 3-4, R, RBI
Wynn 0-2, BB, RBI
Hart 0-2, BB, R
Clark 2-3, 2 R 

Watson 1 1/3 IP, 4 R, 5 H
Hartline 1 IP, 1 R, 3 H, BB, 2 K
Stock 3 2/3 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 4 K
Lee 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, K, Win


Congrats to Coach Lavelle and the Gators on the State Championship!!!!
Greenbrier Christian 

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