Darlington lets one slip away
By Drake Horton, Contributing Writer
If you make enough mistakes and give a team enough opportunities to steal a win most of the time if that opposing team is talented enough that is exactly what will happen.
Unfortunately, for the Darlington Falcons it did make enough mistakes and the Marlboro County Bulldogs were talented enough to capitalize on them and steal a win right out from under the Falcons noses.
It was a throwing error on a double play attempt in the top of the first that allowed the Bulldogs to score their first run of the game, base running blunders in the bottom of the first that held the Falcons to just one run, and failure to score a run in the bottom of the sixth with the bases loaded and no outs, that gave Marlboro County just too many opportunities to stay in the game.
“I think it came to our base running the whole game,” Darlington baseball head coach Billy Sylvester said after the game. “We made some boneheaded plays and I take responsibility for that, I’m the coach and if we didn’t make mistakes on the base paths that one run in the seventh doesn’t matter.
And with the Falcons giving Marlboro County those opportunities all while not being able to capitalize on its own opportunities, the Bulldogs beat Darlington on its own field by a score of 3-2 in eight innings.
The loss was Darlington’s second straight loss after starting the season 5-0, 3-0 in the region.
With a 2-1 lead going into the top of the seventh, the Falcons looked like they were going to get away with the multiple mistakes and lack of timely hitting and improve to 4-0 in region play, but the Bulldogs had different ideas.
Instead, Marlboro County was able to score an unearned run off of starting pitcher Bryant Huggins after the Bulldogs leadoff hitter reached on a walked and ended up scoring on a wild pitch tying the game up a two.
From there the Bulldogs rode the momentum gained, loading the bases in the top of the eight and executing with what ended up being the game-winning RBI sacrifice fly off of Falcons’ Dustin Knotts.
Pitching was not the problem for Darlington this game, however, as it was the offense. For a majority of this young season the Falcons have been able to get away with some timely hitting in key situations to go along with its strong pitching, but this time the hitting was not present.
“We got to put the ball in play,” Sylvester said on the Falcons poor offensive showing. “That is something we work on every day; situational hitting and when it came into that spot we didn’t make any adjustments and you see the outcome.”
Huggins, who pitched a gem of a game and went into seventh inning before being pulled, got all the praise from Sylvester for his effort on the mound against the Bulldogs.
“They (Marlboro County) had chances tonight, Bryant (Huggins), he was able settle down and make some pitches,” Sylvester said, commenting on his starting pitcher. “He threw a great game, he’s going to be a good one, and he’s only a junior, so he’s going to have a chance.”
But while the Falcons struggled with timely hitting, especially in the sixth inning, Sylvester still believes that this game was lost on the bases and in the field.
“We got to get better by running the bases,” Sylvester said on what his team needs to improve on. “We got to expect the ball on defense. I thought our defense was pretty good, but the error hurt us early in the first inning. I don’t know if they would have scored if we didn’t make that error.”
Now, with this being Darlington’s first region loss on the year the Falcons have to regroup if it hopes to win a region title this season and Sylvester knows that more than anybody.
“This one hurts, this game hurts, but we still got a lot more to play,” Sylvester said on how the team was after the game. “It isn’t even spring break yet; we are still trying to find our way.”
Darlington’s road game against Manning this past Friday was rained out.
The Falcons now head into spring break, playing in the Southeastern Baseball Classic, which is hosted by the Hartsville Red Foxes, for the first time in program history.