‘Heartbreaking’: A walk-off in the ninth eliminates Darlington in Junior Legion play
By Drake Horton
A walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning ended Darlington Post 13’s baseball season this past Friday night.
Going up against Turbeville in a decisive game three with the winner advancing to the next round of the playoffs, Darlington, visitors despite playing at home due to previous weather delays in the week, squandered a once five-run to fall to Turbeville by 12-11.
“It’s heartbreaking, that’s what I told them,” Darlington head coach Joe Kolodziej said.
“Getting left on the field kind of stinks, but to do what we did this year and to finish how we finished, I am just very proud of these guys and very proud of the families, too.
“The families and parents make a lot of sacrifices to get them here, to get them to practice, to get them here for the games, to travel for the away games.
“I just want to say thank you to all of them, but most of all the players.”
Darlington led by as many as five twice, 5-0 in the first and 7-2 in the second, but following those two runs in the top half of the second, Turbeville scored seven unanswered and nine out of 10 to take an 11-8 lead after four innings of play.
“We made some untimely errors; we also made some untimely plays that we didn’t follow through with,” Kolodziej said.
Down by three after such a promising start, Post 13 was finally able to get some breaks in the top of the sixth inning, scoring three runs to tie the game back up at 11.
“We don’t ever quit here and they didn’t,” Kolodziej said.
“They had the will to want to win and get that winning tradition over here in Darlington.”
Darlington got off to a great start in the sixth, loading the bases with no outs.
With such a golden opportunity in front of them, Post 13 capitalized, scoring the first run on a wild pitch and the other two runs on a two-RBI single by Jacob Adams.
“I knew with the pitcher that they had up there, that was their No. 2 and he threw like a No. 2, but he was getting high up in the pitch count and we were just trying to see what we could out last where we could get him out of there, but also at the same time with him getting tired we were able to make some contact, get some singles, scores some runs and by the time I realized it we had tied it back up with them,” Kolodziej said.
That would be the last time, however, that Darlington would score.
After a scoreless seventh, eighth and top half of the ninth, Turbeville was able to play “small ball 101” in the bottom half of the ninth with the lead-off hitter reaching on a single and stealing second before a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt put the runner on third with just one out.
Darlington brought the infield in, but a hard line drive to right field was all that was needed as the game-winning run easily trotted home.
The loss comes with mixed emotions for Darlington because while Post 13 comes up short in what it wanted to accomplish, they have grew tremendously from where they started.
After a horrific start to the season going 1-6, Post 13 turned it around at the midway point winning seven out of their last nine games, finishing third in the region and being one win away from moving on to the second round of the playoff.
Out of the three-game series, Darlington lost game one and game three by one run in the final at-bat while shutting out Turbeville 7-0 in game two.