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Mustangs take a wild one from Calvary
South Effingham gives up 13 runs in an inning--and wins
South Effingham senior Keifer Youmans gets a pat on the back from coach Tony Kirkland as he rounds third base following his two-run homer in the first inning against Calvary. The Mustangs had three home runs in the inning and hit four in the 15-14 win. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

SEHS beat Calvary

SEHS' victory over Calvary

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The script called for the South Effingham seniors to be pulled from the game in the top of the fifth inning and replaced by the younger Mustangs.

The Calvary Cavaliers threw a 13-run inning monkey wrench into those plans. It was up to the younger Mustangs anyway to rewrite a thrilling ending to senior night.

Ryan Baggott bounced a bases-loaded single through a drawn-in infield in the bottom of the seventh, capping a four-run rally in the seventh and completing an eight-run comeback for the Mustangs in a wild 15-14 win Monday night.

“It’s hard to explain that ballgame,” South Effingham coach Tony Kirkland said in a drastic understatement.

At the end of the first inning, the Mustangs led 7-1 after cracking three homers in their first at-bat. When they got back to the plate, nearly 45 minutes later, they trailed 14-7.

After John Roberts’ two-run single gave South Effingham a 2-1 lead, the Mustangs put the strong breeze blowing out to center field to use.

Keifer Youmans followed with a two-run shot to left, Ryan Cole homered to right field and Matt Tufts blasted a mammoth two-run shot off the tops of the pine trees.

But the Cavaliers, the defending Class A state champs and currently ranked No. 4 in the state, responded, without resorting to the longball. They pounded out nine hits, eight of them singles, and used two errors, a walk and a fielder’s choice on which no one was retired.

“It seemed like it was forever,” Kirkland said of the inning. “But that’s why they are region champs and state champs. They came to play.”

The Cavaliers sent 18 batters to the plate, and four Cavaliers —Nathan Hatcher, Kyle Farmer, Bubba Green and Brad Hutson — were 2-for-2 in the inning alone.

“That’s what I get for doing what I did,” Kirkland said, noting how he planned when and how he would take his senior starters out. “That game was on a script. I was trying to do things to get us ready for the playoffs by moving people around.”

For the next five innings, the Cavaliers mustered just one hit against three Mustangs hurlers, Hatcher’s double to lead off the third, and had only three baserunners in scoring position the rest of the way.

The Mustangs — who lost to Calvary in a 3-2 game earlier in the year — started the comeback with Chris Zittrouer’s three-run blast to center that center fielder Blake Jones nearly snared as he scaled the wall. A forceout brought in another run, cutting the lead to 14-11.

Yet the Mustangs — who left 13 on base for the game — stranded five runners in scoring position from the third through the sixth innings, four with less than two outs. Until the seventh, when a lineup full of underclassmen came through.

A hit batsman, a walk and a single loaded the bases, and Michael Miller singled in a run. Green couldn’t handle Matt Zettler’s chopper on the infield, allowing the tying run to score, and one batter later, Baggott came through with his decisive hit.

“We accomplished two things,” Kirkland said. “One, we got a chance to honor our seniors with an exciting win and it was a gift because it was the young kids battling back and getting it for them. And two, it was a bunch of kids who hadn’t been in the lineup much of the year coming through.”

While seniors Cole, Matt Tufts and Paul Cheeks hadn’t seen very much action because of injuries, Miller came off the bench and went 2-for-2 and Zettler got the win with an inning of scoreless relief.

“Michael Miller had two huge hits,” Kirkland said, “and Ryan Baggott coming through at the end gives you a sign of where the program is going.”

Seven Mustangs drove in runs, led by Zittrouer’s three RBIs. Baggott, Tufts, Roberts and Youmans had two RBIs each, and Miller and Cole also each drove in a run. Miller, Tufts and Zack Anderson each had two hits.