CALHOUN, Ga. -- Sometimes in sports the feel-good stories just don't work out. For six innings Wednesday, Corey Greeson was on the brink of the kind of story that becomes legend in small towns.
The Calhoun High School senior, though, saw his dream day become a nightmare as the visiting Lovett Lions rallied from a 4-1 deficit with five seventh-inning runs on their way to a Class AA quarterfinal series-clinching 6-5 win. Greeson, whose pitching was limited to a couple of appearances the last two weeks due to an arm injury, battled through several tough innings to give his team the late lead, but he tired in the seventh and the experienced visitors took advantage.
Greeson walked the leadoff batter allowed a single and was lifted after walking Robert Currie to lead the bases. Reliever John Register was greeted by an RBI single from Sean Reagan, then walked Brant Wells to cut the lead to one with still no one out. Calhoun coach Chip Henderson called on ace Austin Norrell, who had gone the distance in a 3-2 game one win.
Norrell induced a groundout, but the tying run scored. Speedy Nick Boden then put down a perfect squeeze bunt to give his team the lead and Jack Stickney gave the Lions needed insurance with a sacrifice fly.
"We talk about compete every pitch until the final out and that's what my guys did," Lovett coach Lance Oubs said. "That last inning we wanted to be the toughest out we could be, and that's what they did. We didn't have a plan to take a strike or anything, but we were more patient there. Their kid pitched his tail off and he deserved to win the game today. He was doing a great job, but we just had some good at-bats in the seventh inning and got back into the game."
Calhoun, its season ending at 21-7-1, got to within one on Westin McArthur's two-out solo homer in the bottom half, but reliever Mitch Stallings, the team's fifth pitcher, fanned Jackson Brumlow to end the game and series. The Yellow Jackets had scored single runs in the first, second, fifth and sixth innings -- including a solo homer and RBI single from Jeremy Wyatt -- to give Greeson the lead.
Henderson, whose team has been unusually short on pitching all season, did not regret sticking with his senior.
"When a senior says I want the ball, you live and die with them," the veteran coach said. "Obviously the leadoff walk there set the tone, but he had gotten out of several jams. He'd been solid all game long. It kind of got away from us there in the seventh, and ol' momentum can swing quickly and it did there. These guys have layed it on the line and I'm proud of all of them.
"Somewhere during the early season we were struggling big time and there was speculation as to whether we would even reach the playoffs. The seniors took hold of this team and righted the ship, and it's a credit to them for getting us this far. It hurts, and I hurt for them, but there are several kids who are going on to play at a higher level and I hope they can use this hurt as a tool to make themselves better."