Green coming up clutch for Sylacauga
by ERICH HILKERT
Mar 08, 2013 | 2801 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SYLACAUGA—It’s only Will Green’s first year playing for the Varsity baseball team and yet, there he was pitching the final inning of the Talladega County Baseball Tournament with a narrow one-run lead.

The tall sophomore said he was full of nerves, but it wasn’t apparent to everyone in attendance.

“Once the flow of the game gets going and you’re around your teammates and you know everybody’s got each other’s backs, nerves just kind of go away,” Green said. “You play baseball and that’s all that matters.”

Green played the first three innings of the championship game against Childersburg as the first baseman. In the top of the fourth inning, he moved to relief pitcher for starting pitcher Zach Pearson with the team down 4-0, the bases loaded and only one out.

“When I went in, the situation, it wasn’t looking too good,” Green said. “But when stuff starts falling your way, you start to believe. It just changes the momentum. The last inning we started off good. We dug ourselves into a little bit of a hole, but you just can’t give up. You’ve got to keep fighting and that’s what we did.”

Green got Zach Lightsey to ground into a fielder’s choice for the second out, scoring the fifth and what would ultimately be Childersburg’s final run of the game. The run was charged to Pearson, as Green had inherited the runner upon entering the game in relief. Green walked the next batter he faced in Walker Holmes to re-load the bases. In his first pressure situation of the night, he managed to strike Justin Baker out for the third out of the inning.

“It was clutch,” Sylacauga head coach Mike Gibbs said. “It was a time when we were down 4-0 and we had to make a pitching change and Will was the next one on our list to pitch. He came in and held serve and got us out of a tight spot. Shortly thereafter, our offense was able to put on a couple of runs and get us back into the game. For the other three innings, Will just sort of shut them down and got into a little bit of a time spot in the seventh inning but held composure and made some pitches and got us out of it.”

Green worked through the next two innings by only allowing a single. In the seventh inning, he ran into trouble.

“In the seventh inning, we came out and needed three outs,” Gibbs said. “We had just scored one to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth. We came out there and got two quick outs and then the third that we should have had on a routine play, we messed it up and didn’t get it.”

Pearson, now playing shortstop, was unable to make a clean play and Will Donahoo reached first base.

“That shook everybody a little bit, including Will maybe a little bit,” Gibbs said. “He struggled the next couple of batters, but he never did get too far away from the strike zone.”

Despite working the count, Green walked the next two batters to load the bases once again.

“He kept bringing it and then eventually got the last out with the bases loaded with a strikeout,” Gibbs said. “That was very exciting for everybody. I was proud to see that.”

While the lasting image of Green in the eyes of most Aggie fans is him getting the final out in the championship game, he actually had a big impact as a hitter in earlier games in the tournament. Green has spent some time batting third, fourth and fifth in the order, all important spots in any lineup.

“He hit one grand slam in the County Tournament, his on-base percentage is real good and he’s getting plenty of hits,” Gibbs said. “He’s hitting the ball hard, even when he’s not getting a hit. He’s swinging the bat well, so we’ve moved him into the three-hole for now and he’s held serve there too.”

Green said he actually prefers first base over pitching.

“I love pitching, but first base—I love that position,” Green said. “I love being able to be in on a lot of the plays. I feel very comfortable there.”

Green said being thrown into high-pressure situations has actually been an invaluable learning experience for him.

“When you’re thrown out on the varsity field for the first time, you don’t know what to expect,” he said. “A lot of nerves run through you and it’s a big stage. You’re challenged and you have to learn from the mistakes you make the first time on the field. When you get to feel more comfortable and more relaxed, then I guess that’s where you learn from it.”