By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
SPRINGFIELD – Effingham County baseball coach Shane Ramsey can’t say it enough – “Finish.”
The Rebels took three leads into the seventh inning in their three-game series with Evans High School last week but couldn’t finish the good work they started and lost all three games.
The last two setbacks were heartbreakers at home – 7-4 in eight innings and 5-2 – on a Friday night to forget.
“This game is cruel at times,” Ramsey said.
Leading 4-2 with two outs in the seventh inning of the opener, ECHS saw its advantage slip away when Evans’ Hunter Thompson smacked a two-run home run to ruin a solid effort by Rebels’ starter Griffin Howe. The Knights then added three in the eighth to complete the comeback.
In the nightcap, ECHS starter Blake Hendrix retired nine in a row and took a three-hitter and a 2-1 lead into the seventh inning before Evans struck for four runs. Two walks and an error eventually scored the final three runs.
If it’s possible, the Rebels’ series opener at Evans was more demoralizing. South surrendered an early 8-0 lead and still led 10-9 in the seventh, before the Knights walked off with another improbable win.
“I believe in this team. I feel we’re talented, but we have to learn to finish,” Ramsey said. “We have to know how to handle adversity and give ourselves a chance to win. It’s been that way all year.”
ECHS (6-10, 2-5 Region 2-6A) dropped to fifth place in the seven-team region, but the Rebels have played at least two fewer region games than every team except South Effingham.
“I keep telling (the players), we still have everything in front of us,” said Ramsey, whose squad started the week with a three-game set with Grovetown. The series ends Friday with a doubleheader at Grovetown.
Mustangs take 2 of 3 from Lakeside
South Effingham’s bats remained hot while scoring 28 runs in a three-game series with Lakeside Evans, winning the first game 12-1 on March 21, then dropping the first game of a doubleheader 13-11 on Thursday (March 23) before winning the rubber game 5-3.
South scored 17 runs in its series finale with Evans.
Against Lakeside in the opener in Guyton, the Mustangs put the game away by sending 14 batters to the plate during a nine-run fourth inning. Maddox Shiell had a single and a double and drove in three runs in the inning.
Kaleb Johnson was the winning pitcher in a game shortened to five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
SEHS (12-6, 5-2 Region 2-6A) resides in third place in the region standings behind Glynn Academy and Evans but has played five fewer games.
The Mustangs began a three-game series with Brunswick on March 27. Game 2 is today (March 29) in Brunswick with the series ending in Guyton on March 31.