Greenville answers early wake-up call, advances to semifinals

Parker Watson slides in safely during Greenville's quarterfinal TOSC win Tuesday morning.

By Mike Grizzard

Whether it’s early or late, Greenville Tar Heel keeps meeting the challenge in the rain-plagued Tournament of State Champions at Stallings Stadium at Elm Street Park.

The North Carolina state champions, 10 hours after polishing off a 6-0 win over Georgia state champion Smyrna on Monday just one minute before midnight, stepped back on the field Tuesday at 10 a.m. and cruised to an 8-1 win over Tennessee champion Goodlettsville, earning a spot in the TOSC semifinals Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 against Virginia. South Carolina and Georgia met in the other semifinal Tuesday. The championship is scheduled for Wednesday at 11 a.m.

Greenville opened the eight-team tournament Saturday with a 10 a.m. game against Tennessee and prevailed 5-0. Derrion Geddis and Max Mason combined to extend the scoreless innings against Tennessee to 11 on Tuesday before a run scored in the sixth, ending a bid for a ninth postseason shutout.

Greenville manager Brayom Anderson called on Geddis to start even with ace James Sawyer available. Geddis navigated his way through two-plus scoreless innings, holding Tennessee without a hit but flirting with trouble by issuing four walks and hitting a batter.

Tennessee put runners at second and third with no outs in the first and had the bases loaded with one out, but Geddis escaped with consecutive called third strikes on Champ Nix and Cade Philpot.

He walked the first two batters in the third before Mason entered to chalk up three straight outs. Mason sailed through the fourth on just six pitches and got a double play from a dependable defense in the fifth.

Two walks and an error loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth. Ty Hutson then hit a liner to center that Ryker Butcher scooped up and fired to third for a force out -- the second time in two games Greenville turned an apparent single into a force out. A grounder to third and a fly ball to right ended it.

Geddis and Mason combined to give up just one hit -- an infield single by Dai Dai Cotton to start the fifth inning. The two right-handers struck out eight -- five with Tennessee batters looking -- and gave up just one hit.

Greenville racked up nine hits by seven different batters against three Tennessee pitchers. Sawyer once again provided an early momentum boost with two-run, two-out homer to center in the first.

Sawyer, who hit three homers for Pepsi-Cola during the regular season, also homered in the first inning Monday and now has three postseason blasts, plus the crown of home run derby champion in Friday’s skills competition.

Greenville added a run in the third when Justin Grimes singled to left and came around on three wild pitches. Grimes knocked in another run in the fourth, scoring Quinn McCaffrey with a sacrifice fly.

Greenville piled on four runs in the fifth with the help of three Tennessee errors. Davis Bradley, who reached base in all three of his plate appearances, led off with a double. Parker Watson, who was 2-for-3, Mason and Geddis each added singles..

Mike Grizzard of Winterville has more than 30 years of experience as a writer for both print and digital publications in the areas of sports, business, news, faith and personal profiles. Contact Mike at 252-916-4206.