The Effingham County Rebels baseball team finally got the hit in the clutch they were looking for and it may just kick-start them into the state playoffs.
Jonathan Rotureau’s bases-clearing double capped a five-run rally in the third inning as the Rebels roared back to beat Evans 11-4 Friday in the Region 3-AAAA playoffs.
“It gives us a win going into the playoffs, and that’s always nice,” Rebels coach Brett Griffin said. “We just played a great team.”
Effingham (15-10) trailed 4-0 going into the bottom of the third inning. Garrett Arnsdorff started the rally with a walk. After Dylan Scott was hit by a pitch, two errors and a passed ball allowed the first two runs to score. Evan Jarman walked to load the bases, but the Knights’ Teddy Leverett struck out D.J. Collins and Daniel Farmer.
Rotureau then came through with his two-out, three-run double to put the Rebels in front.
In losses to Greenbrier and to Lakeside-Evans, the Rebels left a bevy of runners in scoring position.
“We’ve tried to work on some things,” Griffin said. “Hopefully, this is something we can build on.”
The Rebels coach thought his team was going to remain stuck in its rut at the plate after leaving runners stranded the first two innings against the Knights.
“I thought early on, ‘here we go again,’” he admitted. “And then we got the big hit from Jonathan. That’s what we’ve been asking for, and we got it.”
The Rebels quickly built on Rotureau’s crucial hit, and Arnsdorff initiated the rally again. This time, he singled to left to open the bottom of the fourth. Scott executed a hit-and-run with a base hit to center to put runners on the corners with no outs, and pinch-hitter Matthew Rahn drew a walk to load the bases.
Zach Dotson delivered a two-run single to right, and Evan Jarman followed with a two-run triple to right to put the Rebels ahead 9-4. One batter later, Farmer put down a squeeze bunt, bringing in Jarman with the final run of the inning.
Dotson brought in Scott with the final run with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the fifth.
After a rough first two innings, Scott settled down. He gave up only two hits over his final four innings before Jarman came on in the seventh to close out the game.
Scott finished with five strikeouts.
“I thought he did a good job,” Griffin said of his senior right-hander. “We made some mistakes, and he left some pitches up early. But he came back.”
The Rebels will travel to Thomasville to face Thomas County Central, the No. 2 seed from Region 1, in the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs. The series, a best-of-three format, is scheduled to start Friday afternoon at 4 p.m.