WC pitcher Greene sharp in first outing in almost a year

Published 8:51 pm Saturday, February 18, 2017

RICHLAND — It had been nearly a full year since Aaron Greene stepped on a pitcher’s mound for an actual game. Ever since he was shut down as a precaution midway through the 2016 season with inflammation in his rotator cuff, the big right-hander has waited for the opportunity to play again and become the front line starter Warren Central needs in its pursuit of a Class 6A baseball championship.

On Saturday, Greene was back on the bump looking fresh and dominant as ever and the Vikings were glad to have him back. He breezed through two innings, his fastball reaching into the low 90s, as Warren Central beat Richland 8-2 in a preseason jamboree game.

“It felt really good. I was glad to be back out there. Hopefully I can keep throwing like that and not get injured like I did last year,” Greene said.

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Greene struck out three batters, walked none, and allowed one hit and one unearned run in his stint on the mound. The 6-foot-5 junior retired the first four batters he faced and showed a glimpse of the talent that has already garnered a lot of attention from college coaches.

Greene, who has committed to Ole Miss, was 4-1 with a 1.71 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 2016 before his shoulder injury ended his season early.

Greene is expected to team with Farmer Abendroth — a sophomore right-hander of similar size and with similar velocity — to form a formidable 1-2 punch at the top of the Vikings’ rotation.

Abendroth also plays basketball for Warren Central and is still attached to that team as it heads into the Class 6A state tournament this week. He was in the dugout Saturday but did not play.

“(Greene is) going to be pivotal. We’ve got to keep him healthy and have him there when it’s crunch time,” Warren Central coach Conner Douglas said. “That he competed is the biggest thing. He didn’t rely only on his fastball, which was fun seeing him mix his pitches well and throw all three pitches for strikes. That’s great when pitchers are doing that early in the year. He’s way ahead of schedule right now, so we’re excited for him.”

Warren Central lost 2-1 to Pisgah in the second game of its jamboree doubleheader on Saturday. Both games were only four innings long. Greene’s return and a strong offensive performance in the first game left the Vikings happier than sad despite the split.

They scored five runs in the top of the first inning against Richland, and then added to the lead with a single run in the second inning and two in the third.

Landon Stewart went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored, Colton Norris and Logan Stewart drove in two runs apiece, and courtesy runner Shakee Shaw scored twice.

The Vikings finished with nine hits spread among eight players.

“I’m very satisfied with how we played today. It’s always fun to play another opponent. It gives you a little extra adrenaline. But the guys played well, we swung it well, and the biggest thing was we got some timely hits when they were out there. So I’m very happy with what we did there,” Douglas said.

The Vikings also got a solid effort from relief pitcher Caleb Sterling after Greene left the game. Sterling, a sophomore right-hander, pitched the last two innings and gave up one unearned run. He allowed two hits and no walks, and struck out one.

“He pounded the zone with his fastball and threw three pitches for strikes. It was a great sophomore showing,” Douglas said. He’s going to be in the mix for us, whether it’s as a No. 3 or a closer. He’s thrown great this offseason, so we’re looking for him to be a dude for us. He had a great day.”

Warren Central will open the season Friday at home, at 7 p.m. against Terry. It will then play at Northwest Rankin next Saturday at 1 p.m.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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