The community came out to support both sides and they were treated to a great game.Mustangs coach Todd Eubanks
By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
SPRINGFIELD — South Effingham didn’t do much offensively Monday night but, behind a nifty four-hitter from right-hander Nick Milbrandt, it was enough to defeat rival Effingham County 2-0 at ECHS.
Milbrandt allowed just one hit after the first inning en route to a complete-game performance to give the Mustangs Game 1 in a key three-game Region 2-AAAAAA series.
Game 2 is Wednesday in Guyton with the finale back in Springfield on Friday.
“It was an outstanding high school baseball game,” SEHS coach Todd Eubanks said. “The community came out to support both sides and they were treated to a great game.”
Both teams have been trending upward lately. The Mustangs (18-6, 9-4 Region 2-AAAAAA) won for the 12th time in their last 13 games and remained tied with Richmond Hill and Glynn Academy with just four region losses.
ECHS (13-10, 6-7) entered the game after winning two of three games against Glynn. Rebel pitchers had given up just 14 runs in their last six games.
But Milbrandt cooled down the hosts, striking out nine and walking only two while raising his record to 8-1. Eubanks said Milbrandt began the game with an 0.75 earned run average.
“He’s been a bulldog for us all year,” Eubanks said. “It’s my belief, he’s the best pitcher in the region. We don’t have to score a lot of runs when he’s out there.”
The Mustangs pushed across the only two runs of the night in the third inning. The rally started when Zack Zorbo reached on a wild pitch after swinging at a third strike. After a sacrifice bunt, Noah Hollis produced a run-scoring single and later in the inning, Nick Duke had a two-out RBI single.
That’s all Josh Bassett surrendered during his tough-luck, complete-game outing. He induced 15 ground-ball outs and had four strikeouts while pitching a six-hitter.
But the Rebels just couldn’t provide any run support. And they had chances.
In the first inning, JD Coleman led off with a double, but a pinch runner was erased on a line-drive double play. ECHS had two more hits in the inning but had nothing to show.
In the fifth inning, the Rebels threatened with runners at first and third and one out, but a missed suicide squeeze led to an out during the subsequent rundown and Milbrandt escaped again.
ECHS had two runners on in the sixth but couldn’t get a two-out hit to keep the rally going.
“We just didn’t do what we needed to do to win,” Rebels coach Chris Johnson said.