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Mustangs cement grip on top spot
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There was no letdown from Tuesday night’s dramatic win over Blessed Trinity for the South Effingham Mustangs baseball team.

In fact, they really never let up.

The Mustangs cemented their grip on the top spot in Region 3-AAA (South) with a 10-0, five-inning win over Liberty County on Wednesday, going to 13-4 overall and 5-0 in the subregion.

“We hit the ball all the way through the lineup,” South Effingham coach Tony Kirkland said. “It was a perfect stage for a letdown, and our kids didn’t let it happen. We had two options — you could have that classic mental letdown, or they could continue the enthusiasm they had the night before, and they chose the latter.”

The Mustangs’ batters backed a dominating effort from pitcher Jesse Osborne with 10 hits. Every batter either had a hit or scored a run.

Meanwhile, Osborne handcuffed the Panthers’ lineup. He allowed only Ethan Pringle’s single to right in the second inning. Osborne struck out four and did not walk a batter, and he threw only 47 pitches.

“They were putting the ball in play,” Osborne said of the Panthers. “With 47 pitches, you’re not striking them all out.”

The rapid fashion in which Osborne went through Liberty’s batting order made life difficult for Kirkland in the dugout.

He ordinarily begins working on the charts when the team is in the field, marking if the Mustangs’ hitters did what they were supposed to do.

“I’d start working on the book, and we’d be back out there hitting,” he said. “It was a phenomenal performance. It’s unbelievable.”

Zach Anderson smacked a 2-0 offering from Panthers starter Skyler Hoffer for a home run to lead off the game. Two batters later, Chris Zittrouer drew a two-out walk and scored following Jake Youmans’ single.

“It was the first time we’d seen Hoffer,” Kirkland said of the Panthers’ hard-throwing ace, “and it could have been easy to be intimidated because they were going from 88 to 91 mph.”

The Mustangs added two more runs in the second. Jace Daley executed a hit and run, delivering a single to right field and putting runners on the corners. Anderson brought in Michael Miller with a groundout to first, and Colby May’s infield single made it 4-0.

South Effingham stretched the lead to 8-0 with four more in the third. With the bases loaded and two outs, Anderson lined a 3-2 pitch into the left centerfield gap, clearing the bases. May followed with an RBI single to center.

John Roberts ended the scoring, and in effect the game, with a two-out, two-run homer to left center in the fifth.

Anderson finished 2-for-4 with five RBIs, and May was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Marcus Zeigler went 2-for-3 and Daley was 1-for-1 and scored three runs.

The loss dropped the Panthers (8-4, 4-1) out of a tie atop the subregion with South Effingham. Two teams, Benedictine and Burke County, are tied for third at 2-2.

South Effingham plays Benedictine, Burke County and Hephzibah next week.