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Mustangs' 'grit' shows in series finale against Jackets
Mustangs third baseman Blake McCollum stretches for the ball after a hard grounder bounced off his chest Friday. He recovered in time to throw out the Wayne County batter at first base. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

GUYTON -- After getting knocked down hard twice in recent days, the South Effingham Mustangs got up, dusted themselves off and turned in a good showing in the finale of their Region 2-AAAAA series against Wayne County on Friday.

The Mustangs were hammered 10-0 and 9-4 on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, but found themselves in a 1-1 tie with the powerful Yellow Jackets after three Friday frames.

Shortly thereafter, Wayne County sent hard-throwing Ford Townsend to the mound. He put a lid on the uprising and the Jackets won 2-1.

"Like I just told they guys, they did a good job of getting better as the series went on," South Effingham coach John DeRing said. "We were shellshocked in game one and got our brains beat in but we strung some stuff together (Thursday) night and just couldn't hold on to the lead. Tonight, we battled and were in a 2-1 ballgame with a guys throwing 90-plus miles per hour on the mound.

"We haven't seen velocity like that all year."

The Jackets needed Townsend, who fanned seven of eight Mustangs during one stretch, because Jakob Valleroy matched him pitch for pitch down the stretch.  

"Tonight is (reflective of) what we have to be," DeRing said. "We were energetic, we competed at the plate better and the whole nine yards. Our X factor has got to be our grit and resilience. We've shone it. We've shone it throughout the season. It just took three games to see it in this series.

"If we show that grit and resilience in game one and game two, we at least take one game, I know."

See the March 28 edition of the Effingham Herald for more details.