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Mustangs surge past Blue Devils in late innings

POSTED: April 5, 2018 8:08 a.m.
Mark Lastinger/staff/

South Effingham catcher Doug Williams puts a tag on Statesboro's Mikal Mascarello to end the third inning Wednesday.

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GUYTON -- South Effingham coach John DeRing frequently uses  "resilient" to describe his baseball team. Wednesday's game against Statesboro was a perfect example of why the word is so prominent in his vocabulary.

DeRing's Mustangs, who have several players nursing injuries, amassed all their runs in their final two at-bats to turn back the slumping Blue Devils 4-2.

Statesboro has won just two of 23 games this season. The Mustangs are 10-10 after notching their fifth straight victory, all in Region 2-AAAAA play.

The Mustangs entered the sixth inning down 2-1. Then Grayson Spendiff, Doug Williams, Dylan Wallace and Jayce Warren stroked successive hits and Chase Warren added a sacrifice fly to take the lead.

"I think we got a little bit out in front of ourselves (emotionally) to begin the game but they did a good job of slowing themselves down and getting it together," DeRing said. 

DeRing's said the Mustangs were "a little too geeked up" as they struggled to score in the early going against Bradley Gronefeld, who allowed just two hits in the first four frames.

Gronefeld's counterpart on the mound, Jakob Valleroy, meanwhile, had to contend with a controversial call that helped put him in a 2-0 hole in the third inning.

With two outs, Davis Wiggins was credited with a hit that landed near the foul line in right field. He ended up scoring even though he didn't run hard initially, likely believing the ball was foul. The Blue Devils followed with three more base knocks to plate another run before left fielder Caleb Radcliffe snuffed the rally by gunning out a runner at the plate.

Valleroy allowed only one more hit the rest of the game.

"He is a freaking Bulldog," DeRing said. "He gets better as the game goes on. I bet his velocity picked up three or four miles per hour in the last two innings. His pitching style is not like (Houston Astros pitcher Jason) Verlander but he's like Verlander in that he just gets better as the game goes on.

"He's the ultimate competitor and the ultimate worker."

Valleroy, also a shortstop, wasn't supposed to pitch but got thrust into action because of South Effingham's injury situation.

"It's next man up," DeRing said. "We don't have a lot of kids but all our kids can play a lot of positions. That has benefitted us a lot this year."

DeRing had high praise for Statesboro despite its poor record. The Blue Devils, who will host South Effingham on Friday, have lost seven one- or two-run games, including one to Effingham County that it led 4-0 with one out to go.

"Coach (Jim) Simmons is one of the best coaches that I've had the privilege to be around and compete against," DeRing said. "He is a phenomenal motivator. His kids are going to come to play no matter what is going on.

"He is an outstanding coach and one of the guys I look up to the most in coaching."

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