By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
SPRINGFIELD — Throughout the baseball season, Effingham County coach Shane Ramsey has implored his team to finish what it starts.
The Rebels won their first seven Region 2-AAAAAA games. And to claim their first region title since 2019, they’ll have to follow their first-year coach’s advice — finish strong in the final three-game series against Brunswick.
ECHS (13-14, 10-5 Region 2-AAAAAA) will begin the series in Brunswick on Monday. Game 2 is scheduled for Springfield on Wednesday at 6 before the teams return to Brunswick for the regular-season ending third game.
The stakes will be high. Four teams — ECHS, South Effingham, Glynn Academy and Richmond Hill — are tied for the region lead.
Fifth-place Statesboro is only two games back.
“We’ve hit a little lull late in the season but I think we’ll be OK,” Ramsey said. “We just have to play a little better. We have to put people away.”
The Rebels are coming off a disheartening three-game set with South Effingham. ECHS led in all three games and held advantages after 14 of the 21 innings but lost two of the three games.
The Rebels’ high-powered offense had shining moments. Lead-off batter Tyler Wells had three hits and drove in three runs in the opener and reached base eight times in the series.
Blake Hendrix had four hits and drove in five runs in the series and Griffin Howe went 5-for-11.
Brandon Morgan received a rare start in Game 3 and went 2-for-3.
ECHS had an eight-run advantage after three innings of the opener. The Rebels led 5-2 with two outs and no one on base in the top of the sixth inning in Game 2.
Three batters into Game 3, ECHS had a 1-0 lead.
Each time, however, the Rebels couldn’t stand prosperity. They held on in Game 1 for a 10-8 win, but Zach Wert’s grand slam turned around Game 2 with one swing as SEHS evened the series with an 8-5 victory.
And despite the quick start in Game 3, ECHS had just one baserunner past second base after Hendrix’s run-scoring double in the first inning. The Mustangs responded with a four-run third inning and pulled away 7-2.
“I don’t think it was (a hangover from (April 13’s) disappointing loss),” Ramsey said. “We talked about it a lot and we had a good practice (Thursday).
“(In Game 3) the effort was there. We had the one bad inning and then we couldn’t string anything together.”
Now Ramsey would like to leave Guyton in the rear-view mirror. On paper, the Rebels will be playing a team that has struggled toward the end of the season.
Brunswick enters the series with a 12-15 record, 5-10 in region play. The Pirates have won just six of their last 19 games overall — three of the victories against Bradwell Institute.
During the final week, Richmond Hill will be playing South Effingham and Glynn Academy will be pitted against Statesboro, but Ramsey says he won’t be doing a lot of scoreboard watching.
“If we take care of our business, we’ll be OK,” he said.