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Mustangs lock up home playoff series
South Effingham catcher Doug Williams (right) gets a running start before jumping into his teammates arms after Friday's win over Ware County. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

GUYTON -- The South Effingham Mustangs played like they had a plane to catch -- or maybe a lengthy bus ride to avoid.

The Mustangs needed just one hour and 45 minutes to dispose of Ware County on Friday in their regular season finale. The Region 2-AAAAA victory clinched them a home series in the opening round of the Class AAAAA playoffs against Thomas County Central.

If South Effingham had lost, it would have been forced to travel 250 miles to Harris County.

"This was a playoff atmosphere," South Effingham coach Johnny DeRing said. "We had a bunch of people here and you could kind of feel the buzz. That's what we need to get ready."

Pitcher Josh Berg certainly looked ready following an ankle injury that cost him several games. He allowed only one hit in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked two.

"He worked his tail off the past three weeks to get ready," DeRing said. "I have to hand it to him. We didn't make a decision (that he would start) until Wednesday."

Jake Sapp kept Berg out of fourth-inning trouble by making a diving stab of Demarco Gibson's deep liner to right field. The sensation play ended the inning.

DeRing said the catch was reminiscent of one made by former Mustang Tony Hunter in 2012.

"It was the same thing -- full extension out on the warning track," DeRing said. "It was awesome. This time of year, that's when those kinds of plays happen, No. 1, and when you need them."

South Effingham got the only run it would need in the first inning. Catcher Doug Williams singled to open the frame and was replaced by courtesy runner Shane Chapman. Chapman ended up scoring on an error on a ball hit by Chase Warren.

Jayce Warren reached on an error to start the second inning and ended up scoring on a wild pitch.

The Mustangs finished with just three hits, one more than the Gators. Williams collected two of them.

After Berg departed, Hunter Morgan and Dylan Wallace combined to finish the job on the mound and weren't seriously threatened.

The Mustangs will host Central at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday. The if-necessary game is set for 3 p.m. Friday.