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Blue Devils remain undefeated in region play

  In a tightly contested pitcher’s duel Tuesday night at Mill Creek Park, the Statesboro High School Blue Devils came out on top 5-2 against Effingham County to extend the team’s winning streak to eight games and a perfect 4-0 region record.
    The Blue Devils (8-4) had to battle back offensively after giving up two runs in the third inning. SHS scored five unanswered runs - three in the fifth inning and two in the sixth - on the way to the victory.
    Blakely Brown was the winning pitcher against Effingham. He pitched six innings giving up just four hits and one earned run. He also struck out seven on the mound while allowing just one walk. Jordan Finch had two singles on the day and scored one run. Bailey Brown had an RBI double in the fifth inning, going 1-for-3 on the plate. Brandon Cook had a big game for the Blue Devils going 2-for-3 from the plate and knocked in three RBI.
    The Blue Devils, coming off a season sweep of Bradwell Institute, were shut out by Rebels pitcher John Ratchford until the fifth inning. SHS finished the game with nine hits.
    “I think later on in the game we kind of dialed in on his (Ratchford’s) pitches,” Cook said after the game.
    Down 2-0 in the fifth, the Blue Devils broke the game open. Connor Atkins started the rally with a walk followed by a Finch single up the middle. Mahlon Williams’ sac bunt gave Cook a chance to put the Devils on the board with an RBI single. Pinch runner Travis Wilkerson scored and an errant throw over the third baseman’s head allowed Finch to come across to home plate to tie the game.
    “I think (the rally) started with Mahlon Williams bunt to lead it off and then we capitalized on their errors too,” Cooks, who scored the go-ahead run on a Bailey Brown double, said. “It feels good to get this win. We started off rough this season, but since we got the sweep we are starting to get back to playing how we know we can play.”
    The Blue Devils started the season 0-4, but have since gone undefeated.
    Head coach Jim Simmons said he was proud of the way his team played against a tough Effingham team.
    “It’s just our second region series and we hope to make the region playoffs, and certainly the state playoffs, but to be able to stay calm and approach the game one pitch at a time with only nine outs to work with and get that out of 15, 16 and 17-year-old kids...that’s huge,” Simmons said. “They did a great job tonight.”
    Griffin Davis came in to pitch the seventh inning and preserve the Blue Devils win.
    The Blue Devils will play against Effingham once again Today, on the road at Effingham. The game starts at 6 p.m.

    Horace Holloman may be reached at (912) 489-9408.