dotson homersZach Dotson delivers the go-ahead homer.
squeeze playMichael Miller squeezes in a run for the Mustangs.
Not long after he gave up the lead to the South Effingham Mustangs, Effingham County lefty Zach Dotson made amends for a shaky top of the fifth inning.
The junior launched a go-ahead three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth, and the Rebels never looked back in a 10-5 victory over their in-county rivals Wednesday night at Rebel Field, their fourth straight victory in the series.
“I was pleased with the guys when they made a few errors and we were able to hold it together and not let it all fall apart,” Rebels coach Brett Griffin said. “I was pleased to see us not panic and (to) step up and make the next play.
“At any time, that ballgame could have turned, and I think the kids understand that.”
Tony Kirkland had more than the loss on his mind following the game. First baseman Stephen Vaughn was taken to the emergency room after Justin Rogers’ bad hop bouncer caught him in the mouth to start the bottom of the sixth.
Vaughn, though bleeding heavily, was able to walk to the dugout and leave the field on his own power.
“We had the one bad inning,” Kirkland said. “We gave up a three-run shot to a good hitter. But for the most part I thought we went backward a little bit.”
Today was also picture day for the Mustangs, and Kirkland accepted the blame for the results Wednesday. The game was rescheduled from Tuesday’s rainout.
“We’ve worked on a chaotic schedule,” Kirkland said. “I take a large amount of responsibility for today.”
The rally started with two out and nobody on. Senior leadoff hitter Dylan Scott singled to left, and Josh Moreland followed with a base hit to left. Dotson drilled a fastball high and deep to right off Mustangs starter Tyler Dodd, putting the Rebels ahead 5-4.
South Effingham had pushed across two runs in the top of the fifth to snap a 2-2 tie. After John Roberts ripped a one-out double, Chris Zittrouer brought in a run with a single to center field. Marcus Zeigler beat out an infield single to second, prompting Griffin to bring in Justin Spellmeyer.
Cam Morris put down a squeeze bunt, and reached when Spellmeyer had no one to throw to. An error loaded the bases, but Spellmeyer got Michael Miller to pop out and struck out Jace Daley to end the inning.
“We hadn’t had a whole lot of time to practice,” Griffin said. “But we have talked a lot about staying composed.
Hopefully that’s a sign of what the kids have learned.”
The Rebels (4-1) tacked on five more in the sixth to put the game out of reach. After Rogers reached, Daniel Farmer lined a 1-2 pitch into left for an RBI single. Pinch-hitter Matt Rahn bounced a two-run single through a drawn-in infield. A wild pitch and Justin Wilson’s sacrifice fly brought in the final two runs.
“I thought at times we did a poor job at the plate and at times we did an excellent job at the plate,” Griffin said.
Reliever D.J. Collins got some help to get out of a jam in the top of the sixth. After Zach Anderson led off with a single, Farmer made a diving stab of Roberts’ one-out smash to third, holding Anderson at second and throwing to first for the out. Collins got Zittrouer to pop out to end the inning.
Farmer was also 1-for-3 at the plate.
“Farmer had a great night,” Griffin said. “I was very pleased to see that. He’s been working hard, and it doesn’t always show in the batting average.”
Scott led the Rebels by going 3-for-4 and Dotson drove in four runs. Josh Brant was 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs, Garrett Arnsdorff was 2-for-4 and Rogers was 2-for-4.
Dotson went 4 1/3 innings, giving up four hits while striking out two and walking four.
“He’s a good pitcher,” Kirkland said. “But we were jumping at the ball all night.”
Eight different Mustangs had hits, but they also stranded 10 runners, seven in scoring position.
“We did not adjust at the plate,” Kirkland said. “We had two situations where we had the bases loaded and one out, and we didn’t score. Where we had been getting the big hit, we didn’t get the big hit tonight.”
South Effingham (5-2) rebounded with a 17-1 pounding of Toombs County on Thursday, scoring 11 runs in the top of the first.
Roberts was 2-for-4 with a homer, double and four RBIs, Anderson was 3-for-3 with an RBI and scored four runs, Colby May went 3-for-3 with a homer and four RBIs and Miller tripled in two at-bats, driving in three runs.
Jesse Osborne allowed only one hit in the game, curtailed to three innings.