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Improbable rally sinks Mustangs
Noah Hollis
South Effingham's Noah Hollis slides across the plate in a cloud of dust during Friday's game against Glynn Academy. - photo by Photo by Birk Herrath

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

GUYTON — Somewhere Yogi Berra might be smiling, but the South Effingham Mustangs weren’t Friday night.

The Mustangs saw the former New York Yankee star’s quip “It’s not over till it’s over,” come to fruition in a seventh-inning nightmare against Glynn Academy.

SEHS took a seemingly insurmountable six-run lead into the seventh, but surrendered 13 runs and lost to the Red Terrors 16-9 to complete a devastating sweep of the teams’ Region 2-AAAAAA opening three-game series.

“We did a lot of good things and had some things go our way (earlier in the game),” Mustangs coach Todd Eubanks said. “We competed but the thing is we didn’t finish. We had a chance to run-rule them and we quit scoring. We learned a lesson. 

“The game is not over until the last out is made.”

Four SEHS relievers struggled getting the last three outs. Glynn brought 19 men to the plate in the inning. At one point, 14 straight reached base as the carousel refused to stop.

Jack Anderson, who batted three times in the inning, had the big hit with a line drive off the left-center field wall (just past the 365-foot sign) to clear the loaded bases and give the Terrors an 11-9 lead.

Three batters later, Gus Gandy tripled down the line-field line to drive in three more runs and make it 14-9.

“We just couldn’t stop the bleeding,” Eubanks said. “One day we’ll look back and …, I don’t know. We’re a better team than we showed for that short period of time. This game won’t define our season. 

“Hopefully, it’s behind us now.”

For six innings, the Mustangs played well and appeared well on their way to salvaging the series finale. SEHS batters had combined to go 1-for-25 with runners in scoring position during the first two games but had five straight two-out hits to fuel a six-run third inning and take an 8-2 lead in Game 3.

Defensively, center fielder Kaleb Johnson made a spectacular sliding catch in right-center, leading to a double play to thwart a second-inning rally.

In the third inning, SEHS used two sacrifice bunts — including a suicide squeeze — and Zach Wert’s perfectly-placed hit-and-run single to keep runners moving along during the six-run outburst.

Meanwhile, starting pitcher Nick Duke settled down and didn’t allow a hit after a lead-off single by Anderson in the second inning until a bad-hop single to start the sixth.

But the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead.

SEHS (6-5) has lost four games in a rowbut will have a chance to turn things around with three non-region games this week (Long County at home Tuesday, Metter at home Wednesday and on the road against May River on Saturday) before returning to region play against Bradwell Institute on March 22.

After the Glynn game Friday, Eubanks said he told the Mustangs, “you just saw a freak of nature. You saw something I’ve never seen in 27 years of coaching.”

Now he’d like his players to refocus, because, like Yogi would say, “Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical.”