The Statesboro Blue Devil baseball team continued their quest for the top spot in the region as they snapped South Effingham’s 10-game win streak with a 9-5 victory Wednesday evening at Mill Creek park.
The Blue Devils were coming off a 3-1 loss in Guyton Monday and fell behind 1-0 before outscoring the Mustangs 9-0 over the next five innings and then cruising from there for the victory.
“We pitched and played defense the same way we did Monday, which was solid,” said head coach Chris Bishop. “The biggest difference in the two games was our approach at the plate. We took more pitches and were much more selective. We feel the more pitches we see the more successful we will be.”
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the first the Blue Devils started the scoring with an RBI single to center by J.D. Kaiser to tie the game at 1-1. Dake Williams then came through with a fielder’s choice ground ball to second to plate the go-ahead run for a 2-1 Statesboro lead.
Ames Rackleff led off the third with a double down the left field line. He would then score on a single to right by Grae Haralson for a 3-1 lead.
The Blue Devils would score again in the bottom of the fourth on three straight singles by Ford Wildes, Will Yawn and Rackleff. Rackleff’s single brought home Wildes and extended the lead to 4-1. Yawn would then score on a wild pitch for a 5-1 lead.
The Blue Devils put things away in the fifth as they scored four runs. Kaiser came through with a two-run single to center, and he was followed by an RBI single to center by Dake Williams for a 9-1 Blue Devil lead.
On the mound sophomore pitcher Dylan Gronefeld was coming off a nine-inning gem last Friday as he allowed only one run and struck out nine in beating Effingham County. Wednesday night Gronefeld was sharp for the first six innings as he allowed only two runs and struck out five. The Mustangs finally got to him in the seventh as they scored three runs, but Mason Hudgens came in getting the final two outs and securing the victory.
“Dylan is wise beyond his years, and the key with him is he gives us chances,” said Bishop. “No matter what happens we know a strike is coming next. He works ahead in the count and he does something all young pitchers need to do and that is throw strikes. We have a good defense behind him so he knows if they hit the ball on the ground there is a good chance, we will make the play.”
Kaiser helped lead the team with two hits and three RBI. Kaiser injured his knee and is currently unable to play catcher. Bishop has been proud of members of the team for stepping up and filling in defensively.
“J.D. has been so important throughout the season and we are happy he can at least still hit for us,” said Bishop. “We had Ryan Weaver jump in there and help us out, and then tonight Hunter Saussy did a great job. J.D. is still vocal and helpful for us in the dugout but I’m proud of the other guys for being willing to step up.”
Rackleff, Kaiser, Wildes and Yawn each had two hits in the game. Kaiser added three RBI while Willaims had two RBI. The Blue Devils improve to 13-8 overall and 8-3 in region play. Statesboro and South Effingham wrap up their three-game series Friday in Guyton at 6:00.