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South drops opening region series
Nick MIlbrandt
South Effingham's Nick Milbrandt (27), the winning pitcher of Game 2 against Glynn Academy, waits to hit in the batter's box March 8. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

GUYTON — South Effingham baseball coach Todd Eubanks saw positives during the week despite losing two out of three games in a showdown with Glynn Academy to open Region 2-AAAAAA play.

The Mustangs (8-3, 1-2) won the middle game of the set 10-0 in a contest stopped in the fifth inning because of the 10-run mercy rule, but dropped Game 1, 5-3, and Game 3, 6-5, in nine innings.

“Our goal is to win a region championship and this first series was a big one,” Eubanks said. “I thought we got better during the week. We battled. It was one of those things where we had our chances, but we weren’t able to hold them down.”

SEHS began the series a little jittery and errors played a key role in the Red Terrors’ scoring in the first game.

But the Mustangs rebounded with a nine-run third inning in the second game to stun then-undefeated Glynn. Senior righthander Nick “Tiny” Milbrandt raised his record to 3-0 by allowing just two hits in five innings.

In Game 3, which was moved to Thursday because of the threat of rain Friday, SEHS had leads of 4-0 in the fifth inning and 5-4 in the ninth but couldn’t put away the Terrors.

“They’re a good-hitting ballclub and I thought we did well,” Eubanks said. “We played very good ball outside of the first two innings (of the series opener) and our pitchers got their pitch counts up in the third game. It was two evenly matched clubs battling.”

Milbrandt’s performance in Game 2 was encouraging for the Mustangs. Milbrandt, the Region 2-AAAAAA Pitcher of the Year after going 10-2 (2.12 ERA) in 2021, suffered a torn ACL playing football in the fall.

He struggled in his first two starts this season, but has recently rebounded with three straight wins, allowing just one run in his last 11 innings.

“Tiny has such a big heart and such determination, to stop him from pitching this year, they would have had to amputate his leg,” said Eubanks after the March 8 game.

Beating Glynn Academy once at least interrupted the Terrors’ recent dominance over SEHS. Glynn had won six straight games against the Mustangs before the 10-0 beatdown.

Last year, Glynn swept the season-opening series with a demoralizing 13-run rally in the seventh inning to overcome a 9-3 deficit.

But SEHS turned its fate around quickly last season and eventually won the region championship by defeating Richmond Hill in the region finale. Glynn placed second in the region.

“We’ll be alright,” Eubanks said. “A lot of teams would like to be 8-3 right now.”

South takes an early break from region play this week, but the competition remains stiff. The Mustangs travel  to undefeated Long County (11-0) on Tuesday before playing two games in Myrtle Beach, S.C. — against undefeated Carolina Forest (6-0) on Thursday and North Myrtle Beach (3-3) on Saturday.

SEHS returns to region play March 21 to begin a three-game series with Bradwell Institute.