It was a long day on the road and an even longer day on the diamond for the Effingham County baseball team.
The Rebels split the first two games of their three-game series with Lakeside-Evans on Thursday, whipping the Panthers 15-3 in the opener but dropping the potential clincher 11-5. The teams played for more than six hours, and the Rebels’ drive to Lakeside and back was another six hours.
“I felt really good about yesterday,” Rebels coach Brett Griffin said Friday. “We played well.”
In their last game before the Region 3-AAAA playoffs commenced, the Rebels were no-hit through seven innings. In 12 innings against the Panthers, the Rebels cranked out 24 hits and made only one error in the field.
“That’s the things you’ve got to do to win,” Griffin said.
In the opener, the Rebels broke open a 3-1 game with an 11-run fifth inning, sending 17 batters to the plate.
Josh Moreland went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and D.J. Collins was 2-for-5 and drove in three runs. Zack Dotson and Jaime Tyler each went 2-for-4 and winning pitcher Steven Proctor was 2-for-3.
“They made some errors and we hit the ball, and it went south for them real quick,” Griffin said.
Dotson’s two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth in the second game — the Rebels were the home team for the game — put Effingham in front 3-1 with six outs to go.
But the Panthers struck for three runs in the sixth and seven more in the seventh.
“They swung the bats in the sixth and seventh innings,” Griffin said. “They got some big hits.”
Collins was 2-for-4 in the second game.
Now the Rebels’ season comes down to Saturday’s game, and Griffin was glad to have the day off between the first two games and the finale.
“This is a day of much-needed rest,” he said. “If we were at home, I’d rather play (Friday).”
But having it all come down to one game is something the Rebels have prepared for, too.
“We’ve tried to set up all year for a three-game series,” Griffin said. “We’ve had a lot of close games and those games should prepare you for what happens.”