Perennial power South Effingham pounded out 12 hits, including three home runs, in defeating Bradwell Institute 12-2 on Monday afternoon at BI in the Tigers’ inaugural game against the Mustangs in Region 3-AAAAA.
“They hit the ball and we didn’t,” said Bradwell coach Jeff Polk, whose Tigers had only three hits through the first five innings. “When you don’t put the ball in play, you are going to struggle. We have to put the pressure on the other team. Tonight, we didn’t do that.”
The contest was the region opener for both teams.
South Effingham, which claims Oakland A’s outfielder Josh Reddick among its alumni, joined the Tigers’ region after realignment in 2014. And Monday, it proved why it’s considered one of the best programs around.
The Mustangs took a 2-0 lead in the first when a ground ball by Austin Thompson found its way into center field, scoring Dalton Griffin and Garrett Hodges.
Bradwell looked like it was about to match the Mustangs in the bottom of the first inning, but the Tigers weren’t able to convert any runs off hits from left fielder Maxwell Ashe and pitcher Evan Crystal.
South Effingham had three base hits in the second, but didn’t score.
Crystal kept it at 2-0 until the third when two more Mustangs scored on an error and a base hit. He allowed one more run in the fourth before being replaced by Darius Tilghman.
Six more Mustang hits, including two doubles, in the third and fourth innings put South Effingham up 5-0.
The flood gates opened in the final two innings. The Mustangs plated six runs in the sixth and seventh innings.
Bradwell’s Ryan Desbiens’ singled to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning. One batter later, Tigers senior third baseman Chris Bell reached base on an error. Desbiens and Bell eventually scored.
Crystal took the loss for the Tigers, giving up five runs, three earned, on seven hits. He struck out one batter and walked three.
“Evan was spotting his fastball, but he struggled with his secondary pitches,” Bradwell pitching coach Ross Couch said. “He was having trouble throwing his curveball for a strike, and that let them sit dead-red fastball. They didn’t hit anything real hard, but they were able to put in play, drive up his pitch count and scratch a few runs off him.”
Tilghman gave up four runs on three hits over one-plus innings, including long home runs to Corey Horne and Tyle Pullum. D.J. Jefferson finished out the sixth and seventh innings for the Tigers, allowing three runs on three hits.
“They did a decent job,” Couch said of his two relievers. “For the most part they made South put the ball in play. Darius left a couple of pitches up and out over the plate that got hit hard, but he battled. D.J., same thing. Got behind in some counts and gave up some hits on fastballs when he couldn’t locate his off-speed stuff. That’s an area in which we have to improve.”
Carlton Redding picked up the win for the Mustangs, striking out 10 Tigers over six innings.
Maxwell Ashe and Crystal both went 2-for-3 at the plate. Desbien added a single.
Bradwell (3-2 overall) is back in action today, traveling to Guyton to take on South Effingham (7-1) in the second of three matchups this week. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
“We have to take today as a learning experience, improve on what we didn’t do well and move on,” Polk said. “It’s a long season. We have to stick to our plan and make sure we are in the playoff picture come May.”