This was just the kind of start to the Region 3-AAAA baseball schedule the Effingham County Rebels wanted.
Behind five solid innings from starter Zach Dotson and an opportunistic offense, the Rebels held off the visiting Brunswick Pirates 4-2 in the region opener Tuesday night.
“I’ll take it,” cracked Rebels coach Brett Griffin. “We’ll take that start.”
That could just as easily have been said about the performance Dotson turned in. After allowing a two-out, run-scoring double in the first, the lefty did not allow the Pirates another run over his final four innings. Dotson struck out nine and walked two, while giving up four hits and walking one.
“Zach did a great job,” Griffin said. “He did a great job of throwing strikes and letting his stuff (work).”
Dotson worked out of two jams, leaving two Pirates in scoring position each time. In the third, Skyler Nettles’ chopper over the mound loaded the bases with two outs. But Dotson fanned Alex Doke, striking out the side in the process. He also struck out the side in the first.
In the fifth, the Pirates had two on and one out, but Dotson wriggled out of a wild pitch moving them up a base by getting Jason Harsh to line out to center fielder Dylan Scott and striking out Nettles to end the inning.
Harsh ripped a double to center over Scott’s head in the first to plate Jay Repko, who reached on a bloop single to left. But a strikeout of Nettles made Harsh the first of six Pirates Dotson left stranded in scoring position.
“I thought Zach did a great job of staying composed on the hill,” Griffin said. “He did a great job staying focused.”
Though the Pirates outhit the Rebels 7-4, Effingham (6-3) made use of the baserunners it got off Brunswick left-hander Richie Wasielewski. Dylan Scott led off the bottom of the first with a roller that slipped through shortstop J.J. Elseser and second baseman Zach Harper. Justin Rogers bounced a single into left field, with Scott scoring. After D.J. Collins reached when Elseser’s throw to first on a double-play attempt went wide, Daniel Farmer’s shallow fly landed just beyond Elseser in center field for a hit and another run.
Wasielewski struck out four in the second inning. Justin Wilson fanned but reached when the third strike got away from Repko and his throw pulled Harsh off the bag at first. Wilson stole second and third and scored on Scott’s infield single.
The Rebels were running again in the fifth off Wasielewski. Josh Moreland drew a one-out walk, stole second and took third on a wild pitch. Rogers brought him in with a sacrifice fly to right.
“We knew we were going to have to take advantage of whenever we had people on base,” Griffin said. “Lucky for the Rebels it worked out.”
Wasielewski went six innings, allowing four hits and walking three. He struck out eight and retired nine in a row in one stretch.
“We had some good at-bats that didn’t show up,” Griffin said.
Rogers finished off the Pirates, giving up a hit and a walk in 1 1/3 innings. He gave up a two-hit, RBI single to Mason Harper after relieving Justin Spellmeyer but fanned Nettles looking and Alex Doke in the seventh as each represented the tying run.
The Rebels travel to Savannah Christian Thursday and will travel to Jesup on Tuesday.