Greenbrier Christian Academy came up short in its bid to repeat as baseball state champions Saturday as the second-seeded Gators lost to top-seeded Highland School, of Warrenton, 10-7 in the VISAA Division II title game at Shepherd Stadium in Colonial Heights.
In what was a rematch of last year’s final won by Greenbrier Christian, the Gators couldn’t overcome the early deficit.
The Hawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning.
The Gators (23-9) rallied in the third to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Highland (29-2) took a 6-2 lead in the fifth. Greenbrier Christian scored two in the sixth to get within two, but the Hawks added four in the bottom of the sixth to take what seemed to be a commanding 10-4 lead going into the seventh inning.
But Greenbrier Christian, which has won 14 VISAA state titles, didn’t quit as the Gators scored three runs, but it wasn’t enough as Highland held one.
“There is not quit in this group of guys,” Gators coach Patrick Nichols said about his team. “No matter the situation, they always found a way to claw back in it. We threatened in every inning. We were just one big hit away. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen for us today.”
Greenbrier Christian was led by Austin Younce, who had three hits and two RBIs. Tucker Rupe had a three-run homer and Gavin Whitehurst hit a two-run homer to pace the Gators.
Nichols also praised the effort of pitcher Bailey Matela.
“He struck out 10 and he’s the reason we were in the game,” he said. “Bailey held them off and kept us in it.
“But Highland is very good. I have so much respect for them. It’s a very good rivalry that we have with them. They just had a little bit more than us to today.”
Highland School 10, Greenbrier Christian 7
Greenbrier Christian 002 002 3 - 7
Highland School 030 034 x - 10
Larry Rubama, 757-446-2273, firstname.lastname@example.org Follow @LHRubama on Twitter.