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Mustangs blast way into state playoffs
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A short road swing up Highway 25 proved to be plenty profitable for the South Effingham Mustangs baseball team.

The Mustangs secured another Region 3-AAA (South) title, beating Burke County and Hephzibah by a combined 34-4 Friday and Saturday. They also earned another trip to the Class AAA playoffs with the victories and will host the North subregion winner April 29.

“This group, I don’t think their sights are set on winning just the subregion title,” South Effingham coach Tony Kirkland said. “This group wants a little more than that.”

In a 14-1 pounding of Burke County on Friday, six Mustangs had at least two hits as South Effingham (17-4 overall, 9-0 region) banged out 18 hits — the same number of outs they made.

Stephen Vaughn went 4-for-4 with a homer, double and four RBIs. Zach Anderson went 3-for-3, John Roberts went 3-for-5 and drove in three runs and Chris Zittrouer was 3-for-5 with a double and a RBI.

Colby May went 2-for-4 with a RBI and Tyler Dodd went 1-for-3 in support of starter Matt Zettler.

“We had a slow start at Burke,” Kirkland said. “We had to make some changes in our approach at the plate. I was real pleased with that.”

In a 17-3, five-inning victory over Hephzibah on Saturday afternoon, Ian Byrd went the distance as the Mustangs pounded out 16 hits and took advantage of six Hephzibah errors.

Roberts belted his 13th homer of the year and added two doubles, driving in three runs. May was 3-for-3 with a homer, Zittrouer doubled and tripled and knocked in three and Dodd and Marcus Zeigler each went 2-for-3. Vaughn had a double and Jace Daley tripled and had two RBIs.

“One through four in our lineup has been pretty phenomenal,” Kirkland said of the first batters in the order, Anderson, May, Roberts and Zittrouer. “The bottom part of the order has come through big in big situations. They’re really doing a heckuva job, and that bottom part of the order changes on who we have to pitch. They’re doing a great job.

“This is the time of the year you want to be doing that.”

The Mustangs host Effingham County on Tuesday and finish the regular season against Liberty County at home Friday.

A victory over Liberty County would give the Mustangs a perfect subregion record — which is not lost on them, their coach said.

“They want to run the table,” he said. “They want to finish up the (region) season undefeated. It’s a pretty neat group.”