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Rebels overcome mistakes, Knights
Effingham County second baseman Justin Wilson gets ready to fire to first to complete a double play after tagging the runner going to second. The Rebels turned three double plays in their 7-5 win over Evans. - photo by Photo by Patrick Donahue

Tyler 2 RBI complete

Jaime Tyler at bat

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They missed signs. They were picked off base twice. They failed to cover bases.

And yet, the Effingham County Rebels baseball team did enough good things Tuesday to ensure at least one home playoff game.

Effingham, behind six gutty innings on the mound from senior Steven Proctor and senior Jaime Tyler’s four RBIs, beat the Evans Knights 7-5 at Rebel Field.

They will travel to Greenbrier, an 11-1 winner over Brunswick on Friday night for the Region 3-AAAA championship and will host a first-round Class AAAA playoff game May 11.

“It feels great,” Tyler said.

Coach Brett Griffin admonished his team for their slew of mental mistakes, yet was glad they still found a way to win.

“We talked like we were ready to play. We practiced like we were ready to play,” he said. “And we didn’t play our best. Good things worked out for us, but we’ve got to do better than that.”

The Rebels made their share of plays, however, including two inning-ending double plays and turned three in all.

“They made some plays, and that’s the nature of high school baseball,” Griffin said. “But we’ve got to do a better job of doing the small things. We’ll take a win, however we can get it.”

Tyler tied the game in the first inning with a sacrifice fly, put the Rebels (16-9) ahead to stay with a two-run double in the third and delivered an RBI single for an insurance run in the sixth.

“I was thinking I’ve got to put the ball in play,” Tyler said of his last at-bat. “Coach always tells me not to try to do too much, just stay back.”

He reminded himself of the same thing for his double in the third that chased home courtesy runner Quinton Nease and Zach Dotson.

“I said, ‘I’ve got to put the ball in play,’” Tyler said. “I hadn’t come through earlier in the year in those situations.”

A walk and two wild pitches, one on a third strike, preceded a double play that brought in the first run of the game in the top of the first. Effingham answered as Dotson blooped a double to left before Tyler lined out to right, scoring Spencer Jackson.

Brandon McCleddie’s grounder to first base became an RBI single when Dotson turned and no one covered the bag, with Brandon Dominey scoring.

But Tyler ripped a 1-2 pitch from Kyle Golden to center and scored on Proctor’s single to left to put Effingham up 4-2.

Dotson, who was 3-for-3, had an RBI single in the fourth and a passed ball — the Knights also walked four, hit two and had a wild pitch —gave the Rebels a 6-2 lead.

Effingham appeared to have Evans (16-8) on the ropes. But the Knights, with another bunt hit on a mental miscue at first, cut it to 6-4 on Ted Leverett’s fielder’s choice and Kevin Milward’s RBI single to left.

With runners on second and third and one out, Moreland, burned earlier in the game when he broke in on a ball only to have it go over his head for a double, snared Jeff Rice’s fly to center and gunned down Kevin Milward at third for the final out, before Ted Leverett crossed the plate.

“Everybody did their job tonight,” said Tyler, who applied the tag on Milward to end the inning.

Said Griffin: “We did some really good things tonight. After all the things that have gone on, these kids are starting to find ways to win.”

Tyler’s two-out single to center in the sixth made it 7-4, and Dotson, on in relief of Proctor, retired the first two batters with ease in the seventh.

But he drilled Leverett with a pitch. Then Milward lined an 0-2 pitch to left for a single. Another grounder to first that was played into an infield single led to Dominey’s bases-loaded walk. Cory Caldwell picked up the save, getting Robbie Bryant to fly out to Moreland, subbing for Dylan Scott in center, to end the game.

Proctor went six innings, giving up four runs on eight hits and three walks. He struck out two and threw three wild pitches among his 84 pitches.

“He gave us everything he had,” Griffin said. “What more can you ask for?”

The Rebels, who secured a state playoff berth in their win over Lakeside-Evans, made sure of having at least one more home game with Tuesday’s win.

“We did it my freshman year, and that’s the last time it happened,” Tyler said.