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Devils outdueled by Greenbrier

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Posted: March 21, 2008 10:22 p.m.
Updated: April 5, 2008 5:00 a.m.
    Nolan Belcher and Crawford Simmons turned in a memorable pitcher’s duel Friday night in Greenbrier’s 1-0 win over Statesboro at Mill Creek Park.
    Belcher had 13 Ks with a fastball that looked like it was gaining velocity as the night went on and a slow curve he placed anywhere in the strike zone. Simmons gave up one hit to the third batter in the first, then pitched no-hit ball the rest of the way to the delight of a big home crowd.
    The turning point came in the bottom of the fifth when Statesboro rallied to load the bases with no outs. Alex Brown walked, then Jake Ware reached on an error. Zack Taylor slapped a single to left setting the stage for DH Luke Connell.
    Connell, who’s been out for most of the season with a shoulder injury, just missed a first pitch fast ball and fouled it out of play. Two pitches later he was walking back to the dugout after chasing a nasty curve.
    Catcher Scott Sarratt then hammered the first pitch he saw, but it went straight to the glove of a reactionary Josh Baggett who caught the ball and stepped on first all in one motion.
    “All you can do is laugh about that one inning,” said SHS coach Chris Bishop. “Luke got one good pitch and he put a good swing on it. (Sarratt’s at-bat) was just a freak ball.”
    Greenbrier (10-0, 2-0 Region 3-AAAA) got its only score in the fourth on two Statesboro errors. Stephen Turner reached second on an E5 then moved to third on a sacrifice. Simmons struck out Adam King and had a chance to get out of the inning, but Nick Page’s ground ball to second skittered right through the legs of Brown.
    But despite Statesboro’s (3-7, 0-2 Region 3-AAAA) three errors and eight stranded runners, Bishop took consolation in the fact that his squad hung with the two-time defending state champs.
    “I’m proud of my guys,” said Bishop. “If we can keep this up — and I’m sure we will — we’ll be fine. We’ve played some tough teams and the record definitely doesn’t reflect the type of baseball team that we have.”
    After Turner’s single in the first, Simmons allowed just five more base runners, stranding four of them. He struck out six, including Turner with runners one first and third and two outs in the fifth.
    Belcher was just as impressive, holding Statesboro’s bottom four to an 0-for-8 with two walks and eight strikeouts.
    “I knew exactly what was going to happen when (Simmons) rolled out here,” said Bishop. “He’s put a lot of work in and that was what I expected out of him. He deserved a win, but so does that other young man (Belcher) standing on the mound.”
    Statesboro will have the weekend off before welcoming non-region Vidalia on Monday at 6 p.m.

    Chad Bishop can be reached at (912) 489-9408.
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