Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Grayson base runner Brandon Benson (15) dives back into first base before the tag by Brookwood first baseman Ryan Woodard (19) during high school baseball action at Grayson High School in Loganville on Wednesday. Grayson defeated Brookwood 3-2 in 8-innings.
LOGANVILLE -- More often than not, big players live up to their billings in clutch situations.
Such was the case for each team in Wednesday's big Region 8-AAAAA baseball game between Grayson and Brookwood.
But while the No. 10 state-ranked Broncos got seven strong innings from star pitcher Lucas Sims, Austin Meadows came up big for his team when the game reached extra innings.
The junior outfielder delivered a walk-off, RBI single in the bottom of the eighth to lift the fifth-ranked Rams to a 3-2 victory Wednesday night at Grayson.
Meadows, who set records while playing with USA Baseball's U-16 National Team last fall, came into the game in somewhat of a slump, with just one hit in his last three games.
But he delivered his second hit of the game to lift Grayson (12-4, 6-1) into sole possession of second place in the region.
"This is when it counts," Meadows said about facing clutch situations. "That's when it pays off. I just stayed back, saw the pitch and drove it to right. It felt good."
The pitching from both teams made it difficult for each team to feel good at the plate.
Sims was in command most of the night, giving up just five hits and one earned run and striking out eight over seven innings, and helping himself by picking off a pair of Grayson baserunners, while a third Ram was caught stealing.
However, after Brookwood (7-6, 3-2) had just taken a 2-1 lead on Cedric Mullins' RBI single in the top of the fifth, the Clemson-bound senior's pickoff move backfired in the bottom of the inning when a throw got away to move Jack Banda, who had led off the inning with a single to third.
Banda then came home on two wild pitches from Sims to pull Grayson even at 2-2.
And after a solid 4 innings from starter Chris Erwin, the Rams got even more clutch pitching out of the bullpen.
First, Korey Anderson struck out Clint Carr with potential insurance runs on second and third to get Grayson out of further trouble after Brookwood had taken the lead in the top of the fifth.
The junior right-hander then tossed two more shutout innings, including another strikeout, to get the Rams to extra frames, where Taylor Allum (3-0) continued the good work by the Rams relievers by pitching around Carr's one-out single to keep the game even into the bottom of the eighth.
"That's one of the area's we're very, very comfortable with," Grayson coach Seth Rhine said. "We've got to go two, three or four deep (in the bullpen). We've got some young men who've worked very hard and thrown strikes.
"When you know you're facing someone of Sims' caliber, and he pitched lights out, you know every opportunity is going to be huge."
Another opportunity arose for the Rams in the eighth after Dawson drew a leadoff walk from Brookwood reliever Blake Schuck (1-2) and was sacrificed to second by Carter Collins.
After Erwin was intentionally walked, Jordan Dykes made a huge play with his diving catch of Oscar Valez's sinking liner to right to keep the game going.
But that reprieve lasted just one more hitter as Meadows steered a single into the hole between first and second with two outs to bring home a speeding Dawson ahead of a strong throw from Dykes for the game-winner.
It was another tough defeat for the Broncos, who have dropped three straight after falling in their final two games at the National High School Invitational at the USA Baseball training facility in Cary, N.C., last week, including a couple decided in the late innings.
"I think both teams played extremely well," Brookwood coach Rick Howard said. "(Grayson) got it when they needed it. We had some opportunities early on, but we couldn't get it done."
Grayson got it done Wednesday behind its trio of pitchers, Meadows and Brandon Benson, who was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Mullins went 2-for-4 with the RBI to lead Brookwood, while Ryan Woodward also delivered an RBI single in the top of the first to give the Broncos an early lead.