GUYTON — The South Effingham Mustangs are having a ball and making a splash this baseball season.
After a particularly windy day recently, a kiddie swimming pool and beach ball found their way over the stadium fence. The players saw them as good-luck signs and brought them into the dugout, said SEHS coach Todd Eubanks.
Now when a Mustang scores a run, he does a cannonball into the waterless pool.
Butt hitting the ground? Wouldn’t that hurt?
“Oh, I don’t know,” Eubanks said. “I try not to look.”
But the fourth-year coach is happy to see his team heating up. SEHS (17-4, 7-2 Region 2-AAAAAA) won its eighth straight game with a 3-0 win over Brunswick on Friday. The Mustangs began a three-set with Statesboro on Monday. The second game of the series is at SEHS today at 6 p.m. with the series finale on Friday in Statesboro.
“The kids are playing well,” Eubanks said. “Our pitching has been solid. We’ve battled through some injuries but the young kids have stepped up. Pitching is the name of the game and our pitching staff keeps us in games until our bats come around.”
Sophomore Hayden Pevey took a monumental step for the Mustangs on March 30 when he threw a no-hitter in an 8-1 win against Brunswick in his first varsity start.
The 6-foot-6 lefthander says he doesn’t get nervous when he’s pitching but admitted it was nerve wracking in the dugout late in the game as his teammates stayed clear of talking about a no-hitter.
“They told me ‘good job and stuff,’ but left (mentioning a potential no-hitter) alone, that would ruin it,” Pevey said.
Brunswick manufactured its lone run by using a walk, a stolen base and an error in the third inning.
Pevey struck out six and walked three while helping fill in for injured Kaleb Johnson in the rotation.
“(Pevey) has great stuff and kept Brunswick off stride,” Eubanks said. “It was next man up. I guess we’re real Mustangs. We have a stable of good pitching.”
Two days later, junior righthander Avery Sikes pitched five shutout innings against the Pirates. Sikes (5-0) was coming off a shoulder injury, but was sharp with nine strikeouts and just one intentional walk.
Sikes pitched out of a second-and-third, one-out jam by striking out the final two batters of the fifth inning to keep SEHS ahead 1-0. The Mustangs added a run on pinch-hitter Peyton Beasley’s RBI single in the bottom of the fifth.
In the sixth, Zach Zorbo stole third base and scored the team’s third run when an errant throw from the catcher sailed into left field.
Then it was time for Zorbo to hit the pool — not that he’s looking to cool off. He’ll take a seven-game hitting streak (13 for 21, .619 batting average during that span) into the Statesboro series.
And when third baseman Noah Hollis squeezed a popup for the final out, the Mustangs ran to the pitcher’s mound and gathered seemingly to take a group selfie — a la NFL defensive teams’ turnover celebrations.
“It’s something to be kids,” said Eubanks, clearly unaccustomed to explaining a swimming pool in the dugout. “They’re having fun.”