vaughn game 1 homerStephen Vaughn hits a two-run homer in a nine-run rally in the sixth inning of Game 1 of South Effingham's series win over Oconee County.
WATKINSVILLE — Storms held up the South Effingham-Oconee County Class AAA state baseball quarterfinal matchup Tuesday night.
But before the winds and lightning ripped through Watkinsville — forcing a postponement of Game 2 to a late Wednesday afternoon start — and a wider swath of north and central Georgia, the Mustangs’ bats unleashed a fury of their own against the Warriors’ vaunted pitching staff.
John Roberts and Stephen Vaughn each homered, and the Mustangs finished their sweep of the Warriors with a 12-10 win Wednesday afternoon.
Colby May, hobbled by a sore hamstring, hammered two home runs, and Vaughn homered in a back-breaking nine-run rally as the Mustangs won Game 1 of their series 16-6 in six innings.
But that onslaught may have been triggered by a sterling defensive play the inning before that got South Effingham out of a jam and kept the Mustangs in front of the Warriors. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the fifth, freshman Ian Byrd was summoned to pitch in relief of Jesse Osborne as South Effingham clung to a 7-6 lead.
Byrd threw one pitch to get the Mustangs out of trouble. John Newsome hit a sinking liner to right field, and Marcus Zeigler made a diving catch, tumbling over as he held on to the ball.
When Zeigler got to his feet, he and the Mustangs noticed Aaron Frazier was well off first base and Zeigler fired to first baseman Vaughn for the inning-ending double play.
May led off the sixth with a homer to dead center off reliever Jose Cepeda and Cepeda was done after he hit John Roberts with a pitch. The Mustangs battered reliever Tripp Horn — Chris Zittrouer smacked a run-scoring ground-rule double, Tyler Dodd delivered a RBI single to left and Vaughn hit a two-run homer to right center.
South Effingham wasn’t done in the inning, as 13 batters went to the plate. Zach Anderson went to the opposite field for a run-scoring single off reliever Jake Fluri, the third Warriors pitcher of the inning, May followed with a single to right that brought in a run and Roberts drew a bases-loaded walk. Zittrouer’s groundout and Dodd’s infield single capped the scoring.
The Mustangs (22-7) appeared to be on the verge of breaking the game open early against Newsome, one of the Warriors’ aces. After Newsome loaded the bases on three walks in the second inning, May launched a grand slam to center field, trotting gingerly around the bases on ailing leg, for a 5-1 lead.
Vaughn scored on a wild pitch as South Effingham went ahead 6-1, but the Warriors struck for four runs in the fourth, all coming with none on and two outs. An error and three straight singles brought in three runs, and Jay Harrison’s single to left cut the lead to 6-5.
Jake Youmans’ double to left center in the fifth put the Mustangs ahead 7-5, but Dustin Phillips answered with a homer to left to lead off the bottom of the inning.
May finished 3-for-5 with six RBIs, while Zittrouer was 3-for-4 with two doubles and drove in three runs. Vaughn had two RBIs and scored three runs as every Mustang in the lineup had at least one hit. They also drew eight walks and were twice hit by pitches.