By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
GUYTON -- For South Effingham baseball coach Todd Eubanks, region play is all about winning the week.
But after dropping a 9-1 decision to Glynn Academy on Monday night in their Region 2-AAAAAA opener, the Mustangs have no room for error this week.
SEHS (6-3 overall) travels to Brunswick today for the second game of the three-game set with Glynn before returning home on Friday for the third game.
“You win the week, you win the series and keep progressing,” Eubanks said. “Glynn’s a good team, but I’m ready to go back at it. I don’t want to wait four or five days.”
The Red Terrors have been thorns in SEHS’ side during the last two years. The Mustangs were 10-3 a year ago, but had two losses to Glynn, in a season shortened by concerns of COVID-19.
Monday’s score was a little deceiving. SEHS had a first-inning 1-0 lead and threatened to break a 1-1 deadlock in the third and fourth innings.
But Glynn escaped jams and capitalized on its two-out, fifth-inning threat. Seven straight Red Terrors reached base while producing six runs and a night when temperatures dipped to 48 degrees suddenly felt a lot colder.
“I don’t believe they’re eight runs better than us but tonight the scoreboard says they are,” Eubanks said.
Failed opportunities loomed key. SEHS was just 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base.
In the third inning, the Mustangs appeared to take a 2-1 lead after the Terrors misplayed Nick Duke’s bunt with an errant throw that hit Duke. But the home plate umpire ruled Duke ran out of the baseline, calling Duke out and sending a baserunner back to second base. The next two SEHS made out to end the threat.
In the fourth inning, the Mustangs failed to score after getting runners to second and third with one out.
“We had a chance to do some things early,” Eubanks said. “(Duke) was trying to avoid hitting (the first baseman) but the umpire said he was out of the basepath. The bottom line is we have to string together some hits and get some chances to get runs in.”
The Mustangs did that in the first inning. Phillip Cooper singled, advanced to third on a wild pickoff attempt and scored on Hunter Walthour’s single.
Righthander Nick Milbrandt, who struck out seven, kept the Mustangs close. He left the game with the bases loaded and two out in the fifth inning and Glynn ahead 2-1, but four more runs scored before the final out could be recorded.