With just half a game separating Evans and South Effingham, the Knights had a chance to muddy the Region 2-AAAA baseball picture Friday night.
Instead the Knights, winners of six of their past seven games heading into the contest, gave up three first-inning runs and managed just three hits in a 4-2 loss.
The win clinched second place for the Mustangs
(15-4, 6-3) who have now beaten the Knights twice this year by a combined three runs.
Evans, now 10-7 overall and 4-4 in the region, will have to battle for a spot in the postseason with two region games remaining. A win against Statesboro Friday night should ensure the Knights a place.
“It’s going to be very close to the very end,” said Knights head coach Ricky Beale. “We had our chances against them, we couldn’t get a scratch for one more. I’m thinking we’ve got to win one maybe two next week to get in at all.”
The Knights were also hurt by their five errors. One in the first inning led to a run, as did two in the seventh that gave the Mustangs an insurance run.
Evans starter Garrett Wilkinson struggled from the onset. He walked four batters and gave up a two-out single to Chase Clayton that plated two runs before Wilkins took him out. Tyler Roberts came in to end the first-inning rally, but the three runs would be enough.
Roberts pitched well for the Knights. In 5⅓ innings of work, he allowed just two hits while striking out five.
“You can’t say enough about what Tyler Roberts did,” Wilkins said. “He gave us five solid innings and threw zeros up there for us. He gave us a shot.”
The Knights answered in the first with a Tyler Moore walk and a two-out RBI single from Jeremy Clements. That would be all for the Knights until the fifth inning.
Mustangs pitcher Zack Smith (3-1) struck out the side in the second and didn’t allow a baserunner until the fifth inning.
Raekwon Bennett led off the fifth with a double, and Kelvin McCladdie added an RBI single two batters later. Smith left with two outs in the inning after having given up two runs on three hits with three strikeouts.
Ryan Nagle slammed the door the rest of the way for the Mustangs.
“The past few nights we’ve been hitting it pretty good,” said Roberts. “We just had an off-night hitting.”