By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
RICHMOND HILL -- South Effingham jumped on Richmond Hill for three runs in the first inning Monday night and finished off the host Wildcats with three in the seventh during an 8-4 victory in the opener of a three-game series.
The Mustangs (21-7, 12-4 Region 2-AAAAAA) claimed sole possession of first place in the region after Statesboro knocked off Glynn Academy 6-2 earlier in the evening.
SEHS, Richmond Hill and Glynn entered the day all tied for first.
Statesboro’s win eliminated Effingham County from a shot at the state playoffs.
Coming off a three-game sweep of the Rebels last week, the Mustangs remained red hot. They’ve won 12 of their last 13 region games after getting swept by Glynn early in the season.
“Bottom line is our kids have been resilient all year and they made things happen tonight,” SEHS coach Todd Eubanks said. “We’re truly a team. Each night, a different kid comes through for us. I’m very proud of this team. They’ve come back ever since that first series.”
Hunter Walthour’s two-run single highlighted a three-run first inning and his triple in the fifth was the key hit in a two-run uprising.
Richmond Hill (14-13, 11-5) rallied for three in the bottom of the sixth to close within 5-4, but South, taking advantage of a rare error by the Wildcats shortstop Leighton Finley, had three two-out hits to score three unearned runs.
Walthour had two hits and drove in three runs. Payton Beasley added two hits and drove in two runs and Aaron Benton had three hits and drove in a run.
Righthander Nick Milbrandt went five innings to improve to 9-1. Kaleb Johnson got the save.