When it comes to taking advantage of mistakes and manufacturing runs, the Effingham County Rebels were in midseason form Monday.
The Rebels opened the 2008 baseball season with a 7-4 victory over the Benedictine Cadets at Rebel Field, erasing a 4-0 deficit in the process.
“I thought the kids did a great job of not panicking and staying relaxed,” Effingham coach Brett Griffin said. “You stay composed and you do your job.”
Or go beyond, if necessary. With the Rebels trailing 4-3 and two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, Cadets reliever Josh Corley walked Daniel Farmer, bringing in the tying run. But as the pitch skipped past BC catcher Charles Moore and rolled to the backstop, Justin Wilson never stopped running, hitting the bag at third and sprinting home with the go-ahead run.
“When you get a 3-2 count, we’re running,” Griffin said.
It also helped to have the expansive foul territory behind home plate, and the Rebels base runners are aware of that.
“That’s a homefield advantage,” Griffin said. “We’ve got some depth back there.”
Brandon Stevenson brought the first run of the inning home on a fielder’s choice that Cadets shortstop Tyler Von Waldner threw low to first base. A wild pitch brought in another run and Zach Dotson’s RBI groundout cut the BC lead to 4-3.
An intentional walk to D.J. Collins loaded the bases, setting up the walk and wild pitch to Farmer.
The Rebels tacked on two insurance runs in the sixth. Garrett Arnsdorff lined a Chris Kicklighter off-speed pitch into center field and advanced to second as he broke for the base but the Cadets’ pickoff attempt went awry. Josh Brant spanked a single to center to plate Arnsdorff and later came around after a steal and a wild pitch.
The Rebels had six hits, all singles but all sharply hit. In their five-run fifth, Justin Rogers and Jason Rotureau led off with back-to-back singles, but those were the only hits in the rally. There were four walks, one intentional, two wild pitches and an error.
The Rebels had two hits through the first four innings, including Dylan Scott’s single to lead off the bottom of the first. They were outhit 7-6.
“We didn’t have the best at-bats,” Griffin said. “A lot of guys were jumping at the ball.”
Chris Kicklighter’s two-run double to right center in the fourth put BC in front 2-0, and the Cadets added a run on Moore’s RBI single and Collins’ wild throw to third to get Nick Keuler on a steal attempt.
Collins made up for it by gunning down a pinch runner in the top of the fifth.
Dylan Scott went the first four innings on the mound for the Rebels before Griffin summoned Rogers and Zach Dotson for the final three innings. They combined for three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and two walks. Dotson worked a perfect seventh to close the door on the Cadets.
“They did a great job, especially this early in the season,” Griffin said. “Dylan got into a little trouble. He was getting tired. The bullpen came in and threw strikes.”
Scott struck out four, walked one and gave up five hits.