The South Effingham Mustangs baseball team didn’t have much time to stew about the loss Thursday night to Calvary.
They didn’t waste any time Friday taking control of their Region 3-AAA opener against Richmond Hill. The Mustangs scored five times in the second inning and cruised past the Wildcats for an 11-1 win in six innings.
Jesse Osborne limited the Wildcats to four hits and struck out five in six innings.
“We got a pretty well-pitched ball game by Osborne,” Mustangs coach Tony Kirkland said. “We took advantage of their mistakes, and it’s a region win. It was a good recovery on our kids’ part from (Thursday) night.”
Kirkland’s bench came through in the sixth, when the Mustangs pushed across the final three runs. Pinch-hitter Tanner Burch drew a walk, and one batter later, John Roberts doubled to right center. Pinch-hitter Kane Smith was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Ryan Baggott legged out a hit deep into the hole at short for a run.
Second baseman Taylor Smith lost Stephen Vaughn’s pop up, and even though Vaughn was automatically out on the infield fly rule, courtesy runner Jake Youmans dashed home. After another walk, Michael Miller lined a base hit off shortstop Cody Crow’s glove, scoring Smith with the winning run.
Starting pitcher Alex Tucker’s wildness led to the Mustangs’ first two runs in the second inning, as Chris Zittrouer and Tyler Dodd both came home on wild pitches. Center fielder Tyler Mitchell made a diving attempt on Zeigler’s sinking liner but couldn’t come up with it, allowing Vaughn to score. One batter later, Tucker threw wide of first on Jace Daley’s bunt attempt, with Zeigler scoring and Daley sprinting for third. Colby May capped the outburst with a two-run single to left.
Daley started a two-run rally in the fourth with a single to left off reliever Matt Graney. After Zach Anderson singled to center, May bounced into a fielder’s choice, bringing in Daley, and Crow couldn’t backhand Roberts’ rocket to short, allowing May to score.
The Wildcats got a run back in the top of the fifth. Nathan Kilburn drilled a leadoff double to center and scored on Raul Rodriques’ sacrifice fly to center.
Miller’s sac fly to center in the fifth scored Vaughn for an 8-1 lead.
The Mustangs (8-4) finished with 13 hits and also turned in a handful of sterling defensive plays, with May turning a double play to end a threat in the first and Vaughn making a tag after May’s throw pulled off him off the bag for the final out of the fifth.
“That’s something we’ve got to continue to do,” Kirkland said of his defense.
He also wants his team to have fun at what their doing and believes that will be crucial to their success this season.
“It is a very big ingredient,” he said. “This is not a game you can play when you’re uptight. This is a kids’ game that grown men get paid a lot of money to play. But it’s a kids’ game.”
Kirkland liked what he saw from how Calvary approached the game Thursday night and wants his team to follow suit.
“I enjoyed watching Calvary. I enjoyed watching their enthusiasm,” he said. “It’s the one thing we need to finish us as a team. Once we get that, we’ll be all right.”