Effingham scored twice with two outs in the seventh inning to edge Mattoon in the IHSA Regional baseball championship at Centralia.
The ninth-seeded Green Wave had previously knocked off Centralia and No. 1 Marion, and they led 2-1 on Saturday entering the final inning.
Jackson Helms pitched strong, throwing 112 pitches across 6 2/3 innings. The junior had a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings before allowing a two-out single that cut Mattoon’s lead to 2-1. Helms had hit an Effingham batter who advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on the hit.
Helms pitched well into the seventh inning when he struck out the first batter. The right-hander then walked the next batter and hit another on a 3-2 count before inducing a grounder for a fielder’s choice at second base, leaving runners on first and third with two outs.
The next Effingham batter beat out a single up the middle by a step, pushing across the tying run. After walking the next batter to load the bases, Helms was relieved by Madden Johnson. The freshman worked the count on the next batter to 3-2 before issuing a walk that forced in the winning run.
Helms allowed only two hits, walked four and struck out five. The junior also went two-for-three at the plate.
“We played well,” Mattoon coach Jarod Kiger said. “Jack pitched a good, quality game for us today.”
Mattoon had taken the lead in the fourth. Cayden Knierim walked and scored on Zach Wetzel’s double to center field. Two batters later, Kaden Junge lined a single to left to drive in Wetzel and make it 2-0.
“We just missed it by a little bit,” Kiger said. “I’m not sure by how much they missed that play up the middle. They (Effingham) kept playing, too. We’re up 2-0 and let one slip away. But I’m proud of the team. I’m proud of the way that we finished up the season, getting two postseason wins.”