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Blue Devils eke past Rebels in series finale
Caden Kessler
The Rebels' Caden Kessler, shown in a 2021 contest, allowed three hits in six innings Saturday. He logged 10 strikeouts. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

The Statesboro Blue Devils collected a Region 2-AAAAAA series win over Effingham County on Friday by winning a nine-inning thriller at Rebel Field.

The Blue Devils (12-6, 7-1) tallied the decisive run in the 2-1 affair without the benefit of a hit. They capitalized on an infield error after the leadoff batter was struck by a pitch.

Both teams benefited from stellar pitching. Bradley Gronefeld picked up the win after allowing four hits in a complete game. He fanned nine and issues one walk.

Rebels freshman Caden Kessler surrendered only one run on five hits before relinquishing the mound to Mason Mock in the sixth frame. Mock didn’t allow a hit and struck out six, giving the Rebels hurlers a total of 14 Ks.

Blake Hendrix drove in the lone run for Effingham County (10-8-1, 3-5).

In the second game of the series in Statesboro on Wednesday, Effingham County was flawless in the field. It prevailed 8-4 despite getting outhit 12-8.

Tyler Wells was an offensive star for the Rebels. He swatted two hits and drove in three runs. J.D. Coleman had two hits and one RBI, and Matthew Ford had one safety and two RBI.

Taylor Rigdon was the winning pitcher. He allowed eight hits and three runs in four innings. Zach Garcia finished the contest, notching seven strikeouts in three frames.

In the March 29 series opener at Rebel Field, the error-prone Rebels fell behind 14-6 before losing 15-11. They committed 10 defensive miscues, helping the Blue Devils tally nine unearned runs.

Timmy Burnsed paced Effingham County with one hit and three RBI. Garcia and Ford each added one RBI, and Hendrix scored four times.