The story is an old one. Long-time rivals face off in a heated battle with a championship on the line.
For Briarwood Academy, the story had a happy ending. With a 6-2 win over Brentwood at home Wednesday, Briarwood earned its second consecutive GISA Region 1-AA championship and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Briarwood Academy's Dustin Pilgrim hits a two-run homer in the fourth inning to tie the score with Brentwood during the GISA Region 1-AA championship game. The Bucs claimed a 6-2 win.
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Both teams ended the regular season tied atop the region, leaving the one-game playoff between the adversaries to decide the final standings.
After splitting the two regular-season games with the Eagles, Briarwood coach Steve Simpson was thrilled to get the win when it counted.
"It's big for our kids, big for our school," he said. "Especially when you beat Brentwood, your biggest rival, it's always big to beat them."
The Bucs struggled to move runners around in the opening frames, leaving one stranded in both the second and third innings. Brentwood jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but the Bucs roared back in the top of the fourth inning on a Dustin Pilgrim two-run homer to right-center.
"I got deep in the count, and I just dropped the hammer," Pilgrim said of the game-tying home run.
Briarwood claimed the lead in the sixth inning behind John Spivey's two RBI double. The Bucs then shut down the side with two consecutive ground outs and a strikeout from pitcher Jason Holley.
In the top of the seventh, Holley hit a triple to right center that scored Joseph Batrous from first. The Bucs racked up another insurance run on a balk that scored Holley from third.
"With Holley on the mound, a four-run lead is huge," Simpson said.
And it proved too much for the Eagles to overcome in the bottom of the seventh. After giving up a two-out base hit, Holley closed it out with a a ground out to second baseman Ethan DeMore for the win.
Briarwood's Ethan DeMore lunges to tag a Brentwood runner during the game. Briarwood will hold its playoff opener Friday.
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"It's nothing that I'm doing as a coach. It's the kids," said Simpson, who took over as coach in the middle of the season. "They've always had the ability. It's just a little different atmosphere. They're more relaxed, and they're ready to play ball."
In the first round of the GISA state playoffs, Briarwood will play host to Savannah's Memorial Day School in a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. Friday.
From the Thursday, April 21, 2005 edition of The Augusta Chronicle
• Bucs move to postseason