Stonewall Jackson 3
Osbourn junior shortstop Brent Greer has done a lot for his team during his career, both at the plate and in the field.
But never on the mound.
That changed yesterday when Greer got the start and went five strong innings to boost the No. 4 Eagles to a 4-3 home win over Manassas rival Stonewall Jackson in the Virginia AAA Northwestern Region championship. It marked the Eagles' second region title in four years.
Greer learned a few days ago that he would start in the championship, even though he had thrown only one inning this spring, in a scrimmage.
"[Starting] was kind of a shock," said Greer, who yesterday gave up three hits, struck out two and walked one. Oh, and during his pregame warmup, Greer said he discovered he could throw a pretty good curveball, which came as somewhat of a revelation.
Greer faced the minimum 12 batters through the first four innings, then allowed two runs in the fifth.
Sophomore second baseman Kevin Kirk snared two line drives in the 1-2-3 first inning, grabs that helped sooth Greer's nerves. Being staked to a 3-0 lead in the third inning further emboldened him; two runs scored on a bloop single by senior Colin Dunleavy.
"After the first inning, I went out there and said, 'You know what, I can do this,' " Greer said. "I felt comfortable. They said they had my back and that I could do it. So I said if they have confidence in me, I can give my own self some confidence."
"He knew a lot of the people from Stonewall, so we knew he'd come out with a little fire," Osbourn sophomore catcher Mike Walters said. "I was just reassuring him that those are his buddies over there [in the Raiders' dugout], and he would never live with it if he didn't beat 'em."
Osbourn junior ace Tony Pasquariello could have started -- he pitched the final two innings -- but Coach Keith Howell wanted to save the Cedar Run District player of the year for the state quarterfinal Tuesday at home against the Central Region runner-up. "We didn't want to overlook the regional championship, but we've never won a state game," Howell said. "So we want to go after it with our best."
Osbourn (20-4) tacked on its fourth run in the sixth off Stonewall junior starter Chris Boggs, to go up 4-2. Sophomore Marcus Powell singled with two outs, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a Pasquariello single.
Stonewall (15-11) stranded five runners over the last three innings, two when Greer, then at shortstop, made a running catch in foul territory to end the sixth. In leading off the seventh, Raiders senior Bill Thompson doubled for the second time, and he scored on a two-out double by junior Greg Taylor to make it 4-3. With Thompson on third, Pasquariello got the final out on a called third strike.
"[Greer] showed up and he wanted it real bad," said Stonewall Coach Andy Devitt, whose team has reached the state tournament for the first time since 1971. "That's what you get usually when you get a kid that hasn't pitched a whole lot."
Stonewall will play a state quarterfinal Tuesday at the Central Region champion.