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Devils suffer first region loss

    How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time.
    That’s the mantra the Blue Devils have lived by this season, and Monday night Statesboro had their first bitter taste of defeat in Region 3-AAAAA play against Effingham County.
    Errors in the first inning and a solid pitching performance from Rebels’ Will Hodges led to a 5-1 loss for the Blue Devils.
    Hodges held the Statesboro to just three hits Monday night.
    “Will Hodges is a very good competitor. He’s got a side-armed delivery and a good fastball. It’s not really overpowering but mixed with his change of speeds he’s very confident,” SHS head coach Jim Simmons said. “He’s got the complete package.”
    With a diverse repertoire of pitches in Hodges’ arsenal, it would be an uphill battle for the Blue Devils as they fell behind 4-0 in the first inning.
    Statesboro, as a team, committed three errors in the field which helped the Rebels mount a 4-0 lead. A deficit the Blue Devils never managed to climb out of.
    Chris Reagin finished the night 2-for-1 with a walk and a solo home run in the bottom of the third inning. Mahlon Williams and Davis Wiggins also had a hit against Effingham County.
    “I really think a big part of the game was our defense early on. We gave them a cushion, which made it tougher for us to put the heat on them,” Simmons said. “We didn’t threaten. I’m quite sure the only time we got a runner to second base was when Chris [Reagin] touched it on his way around the bases.”
    Before Monday’s loss, the Blue Devils (9-4, 3-1 Region)  were 3-0 in region play after a sweep of Bradwell Institute.
    “We have them twice this week and I feel like we have a really good chance to win the series,” Reagin said. “We just didn’t put it all together today. We just have to start hitting the ball a little earlier and start tightening up the defense a little, too.”
    The Blue Devils will face Effingham County again Wednesday for Game 2 of the three-game series. Currently, Statesboro is third in the region rankings.
    “We just want to continue to relax. We work on just about every facet of the game every day, or close to it. We’re down Game 1 and we go there Wednesday. One of our sayings here is ‘how do you eat a whale? One bite at a time.’ That’s our saying to remind us that we’re going to prepare and compete and evaluate how that competition went,” Simmons said. “That’s one of the good things about baseball."

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