By Kevin Price
For GCS Athletics
In a school year already full of memorable games between Brunswick High and Glynn Academy teams, the two schools staged another one Friday night on the baseball diamond.
And this one ended with the Red Terrors claiming the City Championship with a 1-0 victory over the rival Pirates in the decisive third game of their Region 2-AAAAAA series at Adam Wainwright Field on the south end of Brunswick.
Friday’s game was pretty much a mirror-image of the middle game Wednesday when the Pirates prevailed in a 1-0 battle at Bud Couch Field on their campus. BHS scored the only run of the game in the bottom of the first, and starting pitcher Isaiah Wellman threw seven scoreless innings to carry Brunswick to a victory that evened the series at one game apiece.
Glynn won the opening game Monday at Wainwright Field by a 12-1 score in five innings to grab the early lead and momentum in the three-game matchup.
“That’s a first for me, where so many runs were scored in the first game, and then only one in the bottom of the first for them at home and they win and then again one in the bottom of the first for us at home and we win,” said GA veteran coach Trent Mongero. “For the fans, that’s an unbelievable thing for them to witness.”
In Game 3 at the Waino, the Terrors struck for the only run of the night in their first at-bat while starting pitcher Tom Echols and reliever Shaun Munoz combined to blank the Pirates and lead the Red and White to the city title-clinching victory in front of a packed house as the fans turned out in large numbers to see the local rivals face off in another meaningful affair on a warm late-March evening in the Golden Isles.
Back in the fall, the Pirates won one of the all-time great battles in the annual City Championship football game on a miracle touchdown in the closing moments for their first victory in several seasons over their Red and White counterparts.
This winter, the boys basketball teams split a pair of close contests in the regular season before the Pirates won another good one between the teams on Glynn’s home floor in the region tournament to advance to the semifinals and secure a berth in the state tournament.
And just a few weeks back on the soccer pitch, Brunswick defeated Glynn for the first time ever in the first match this season between the teams. The Pirates and Terrors will clash again next Thursday at Glynn County Stadium in a contest that could determine this year’s region champion, making the upcoming confrontation between the stadium bricks perhaps the most anticipated one ever between the rivals in soccer.
With their win Friday on the baseball field, the Terrors ran their record to 11-5 overall while improving to 7-2 in the region after their first three series in league play. Glynn is currently a game back of Statesboro (5-1 region) in the loss column in the league standings. The Blue Devils have played two league series and did not play region opponent this week as one team is off every week with seven teams in the region.
Glynn will not play a region series next week and still has to face Effingham, Bradwell Institute and Statesboro in that exact order to finish the region schedule.
The tough loss to the Terrors on Friday dropped the Pirates to 8-7 on the season and 4-5 in region games. Brunswick is still in the playoff chase as the top four teams from each league qualify for the state tournament. BHS plays a key series next week against South Effingham which was playing for a sweep Friday against struggling Bradwell to get to 3-3 through its first two region sets. The Pirates host the Monday and Friday night games against the Mustangs.
On Friday, Glynn scored the only run in the bottom of the first off Brunswick pitcher Chamberlin Dent who was saddled with the tough loss for the Pirates.
GA’s leadoff batter Blake Wood singled through the right side to start the inning and moved into scoring position by stealing second. With one out, Wood took off for third on the sixth pitch to third batter Tyler Devlin. He picked up another stolen base, but as a throw over to third in an attempt to catch Wood stealing was well away from the bag and went into left field, Wood popped up from his slide and sped home to score what of course turned out to be the only run of the evening.
Dent (1-1), who threw a complete-game shutout two Fridays ago at Richmond Hill, got the final two outs on a strikeout and groundout to end the first.
Brunswick would never score, however. Glynn starter Tom Echols (4-1), a junior right-hander and the eventual winning pitcher, blanked the Pirates as he worked five full innings, allowing only three hits and striking out seven while walking three.
“That’s the third time out now in a row he has pitched really well,” Mongero said of his starter.
Echols came out to pitch the sixth, but he got a quick hook after walking the first batter in the inning on four straight pitches. He gave way to Munoz who has become the next best thing to Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn in the popular baseball movie Major League in quick time this season for the Terrors.
The GA right-hander was every bit the closer that the “Wild Thing” was Friday night for the Terrors, though he enters the game to a different song, doesn’t wear the black specs and moves his pitches around the plate while throwing submarine style while Vaughn simply challenged batters with the heater.
Munoz did a number on the Pirates in the final two innings that would have made Vaughn and the ballpark’s namesake proud, striking out five of the seven batters he faced while recording the final six outs of the game for the save.
The GA senior struck out the first two batters he faced in the sixth, and after an infield error gave the Pirates runners on the corners with two down, he fanned the next BHS batter to end the frame and the Brunswick threat.
In the seventh, Munoz struck out the first two batters swinging and Glynn catcher Jackson Bufkin made a strong throw to first to get one of those after the ball got away from him and went all the way to the backstop. Munoz got the final out on an infield grounder before the Terrors stormed the field to celebrate the victory.
Munoz (4-0) got the win in Monday’s opening game which went only five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule. He gave up his first earned run of the season when the Pirates scored their only run in the fourth inning to avoid the shutout.
Munoz was named the Player of the Series by the Glynn County Sports Hall of Fame following Friday’s game. He was awarded the trophy for that distinction on the field following the game with his teammates and GA fans applauding as he was presented the honor.
“The energy was electric all night. This was like a playoff atmosphere tonight with all the people who were here, but when Shaun comes in, the energy goes to another level,” Mongero said. “He will never tell you, but he wasn’t 100 percent on Monday. But, he was good enough to get it done, and he felt great tonight. He wanted to start tonight, but we trust Tom as our No. 3 guy.”
Munoz, who warmed up wearing a black gaiter in the Glynn bullpen, was more than ready when called on to slam the door shut on the Pirates.
“Every time I step out on the mound, it’s zero-zero,” Munoz said. “It’s zero-zero until everybody’s cheering and we’re going home. I was feeling nice, and I told the guys let’s go bring this one back for the city. We all pulled together and we made a miracle happen.”
In Friday’s game, both sides only managed three hits. In addition to the hit by Wood to open Glynn’s first, Bufkin and Echols had the only other safeties for the Terrors off Dent who worked all six innings for the Pirates, walking three and fanning four while hitting one batter.
Bufkin’s hit was a double for the Terrors.
Glynn loaded the bases in the fourth with two outs, but failed to score to pad its lead.
Brunswick came up empty on two similar chances to score late in Wednesday’s game to add to their 1-0 lead.
In Game 3, the Pirates squandered a couple of opportunities to possibly tie the game if nothing else.
One of those came in the third when Kyle Lodise, the leadoff man for the Pirates, tripled to the gap in right center with one out. Brunswick could not bring him home to score, though.
In the fifth, Brunswick’s first batter reached on an error by the Terrors, but he got caught cheating off the bag at first when the Pirates were looking to sacrifice bunt him to second and into scoring position.
Two batters later, Dent doubled with two down, and an ensuing fielding error by Glynn kept the Pirates alive with runners now on first and second. Echols pitched out of the tight spot when he produced a grounder to third baseman Joe Cutia who fielded the ball and stepped on third for a force out to close the inning.
Brunswick’s only other hit in the loss in addition to the two mentioned above was a single by Caden Hutchinson into shallow right field with two down in the first.
The Pirates committed four errors on the night while the Terrors made three.
BHS swept Glynn in 2019 to claim the city crown with a pair of victories inside the Waino.
The Pirates and Terrors did not play each other last spring as the sudden oncoming of the Covid-19 pandemic shut down all prep sports in the state in Mid-March and the spring season was never finished in any of those sports.
While BHS jumps right back into region play on Monday with South Effingham coming to town, the Terrors are scheduled to take on Wayne County in a non-region contest Tuesday in Jesup and will host the Yellow Jackets for another non-league game Thursday.
In between, Glynn will play a makeup game against Savannah Christian in Savannah on Wednesday.