By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
GUYTON – One swing made quite a swing for South Effingham's baseball season last Friday night.
Dru Futch's run-scoring single broke a seventh-inning deadlock to lead the Mustangs to a 4-3 victory over Glynn Academy and right back into the thick of a region championship run.
South (16-8, 9-4 Region 2-6A) entered the final 10 days of the regular season with just one more loss than region-leader Evans and even in the loss column with the Red Terrors.
Evans and Glynn finish their regular seasons with a head-to-head three-game series.
SEHS, which has the tiebreaker over both Evans and Glynn, ends region play with three games against Effingham County (7-14) and two against Grovetown (5-19).
"It's crazy how tight the region is," Mustangs coach Jesse Osborne said. "With the No. 1 and No. 2 teams playing each other this week, it's going to get interesting."
And in third place, there's the hard-charging Mustangs, winners of four of their last five games, galloping toward the finish line.
Sweep, and SEHS is assured of at least second place and playing at home in the first-round of the Class 6A state tournament.
If South sweeps and Glynn beats Evans once, the Mustangs would have their second region championship in three years.
SEHS put itself in region contention by winning the three-game series with the Red Terrors, the ninth-ranked team in Class 6A (according to ScoreAtlanta), two games to one.
It was the Mustangs' first series win against Glynn since 2009. South's senior class had won just one of eight games against the Terrors coming into the series.
But the Mustangs pitching came through. South surrendered just seven runs in the series. Glynn was averaging more than seven runs a game during its 12 previous region games.
Senior RH pitcher Kaleb Johnson got SEHS off to a great start with a complete-game effort in a 3-0 win in Game 1 on April 3.
"(Kaleb) did his job and gave us a chance," Osborne said. "Obviously, Glynn is a good offensive team. He filled up the zone (with strikes) and we made plays defensively."
Futch gave SEHS another strong pitching outing, allowing just one earned run (four runs overall) in six innings, but offensively the Mustangs struggled before scoring twice in the seventh inning before falling 4-2.
South left 10 on base, including the bases loaded in the seventh.
"Walking off the field, you wouldn't have known we lost," Osborne said. "Mentally, everyone was into it. They know what we have to do (for Game 3) – find a way to win a game."
And they did. Junior lefthander Hayden Pevey came in relief in the second inning and allowed just one run the rest of the way.
Aaron Benton, who is hitting about .400, continued his torrid hitting with two more hits. He was on base three times in Game 2 and his fly ball to the left-centerfield warning track just missed tying the game.
In Game 3, Dalton Redmond doubled to start the seventh-inning rally before Futch's go-ahead RBI single made it a happy bus ride back from Brunswick.
"It felt like a playoff game with fans cheering every strike and every hit it was even louder," Osborne said. "It was great for the kids to come through under that kind of pressure."