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Statesboro errors give rebels a win

          Effingham County was held in check for four innings, but some costly errors and timely hitting allowed the Rebels to get past Statesboro by a count of 5-3 Saturday afternoon at Mill Creek Regional Park.

            Trey Robinson and Chris Lusted both pitched well for the Blue Devils (6-6, 2-2 Region 2-AAAA), but three unearned runs doomed Statesboro in a game that was otherwise played solidly on both sides.

            “It kind of boiled down to a freebie war today,” said Statesboro coach Chris Bishop. “(Effingham) was a little more sound in their execution and they were able to pull out the win.”

            With the win, Effingham runs its current winning streak to eight games.

            Rebel starting pitcher Ryan Franklin set the tone early, retiring the first eight Blue Devils that came to the plate. In 5 1/3 innings, Franklin struck out just three, but used good location to keep the Statesboro lineup off balance.

            Robinson was just as tough for the Devils, quieting the powerful Rebel bats in the early frames and allowing just two runners as far as second base in the first four innings.

            Statesboro struck first in the bottom half of the fourth.

            “Trey did exactly what we know he can do by just putting his stuff in the strike zone,” said Bishop. “I’m not satisfied, because we lost, but I think that Trey did a great job for us. That kind of performance makes us feel confident in our pitching situation with this Tuesday-Friday setup in our schedule.”

            Singles by William Golden, Justin Mee and Josh Key loaded the bases, and a one-out groundout by John Eddie Hodges knocked in Golden for the 1-0 lead.

            Haydon Rollins nearly added to the lead with a bloop to left, but Joseph Snooks get a good jump on the ball and prevented further damage.

            In the top of the fifth, Snooks drew a walk and Brandon Stevenson singled to begin an Effingham rally. It was there that disaster struck for the Devils, as a sacrifice bunt by Jeremy Edwards was fielded cleanly, but Robinson’s throw to first sailed high and allowed both Snooks and Stevenson to come home.

            “We weren’t very effective in our bunt defense today,” said Bishop. “It seems like a little thing, but if we could have just cleaned that up, we would have been tied or possibly winning this game.”

            Effingham finally started to get to Robinson in the sixth inning.

            Matthew Rahn led off with a double down the right field line and Darren Driggers followed with a single. Driggers then stole second, and a soft flare into right center off the bat of Snooks gave the Rebels a 4-1 advantage and chased Robinson from the game.

            Down, but not out, the Devils fired back in the bottom half.

            Lusted drew a one-out walk, and had Ben Saunders come in as a courtesy runner. Mee hit a soft grounder to short that was thrown away by Austin Denny, allowing Saunders to score and sending Mee to second.

            Key found a hole on the left side to bring in Chris Young – running for Mee – but Denny came in to relieve Franklin and ended the Statesboro threat by inducing a pair of groundouts.

            Effingham added an insurance run in the top of the seventh, but it proved unnecessary as Denny slammed the door on the Devils in their final at bat.

            “Today was a loss and we don’t like it, but we’ve got to put it behind us,” said Bishop. “We have another game coming up Wednesday and then we have to get right back to region play.”

            Statesboro will try to get back on track Wednesday as the Devils hit the road to take on Screven County – which Statesboro defeated in extra innings this past Wednesday – for a 6 p.m. first pitch.


            Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.