Opening inning dooms Darlington against Chiefs
By Drake Horton, Contributing Writer
Under a blistering sun, the Darlington Falcons baseball season came to a close this past Saturday as the North Myrtle Beach chiefs won 5-2 in the district playoff elimination game.
Getting another chance to play at home, Darlington was unable to overcome a four-run first inning.
“It was a rough start,” Darlington head coach Dennis Gearhart said. “We just couldn’t find it early in the game. I’ve said it all year: you can’t give good baseball teams extra outs and free bases. I thought we settled in pretty good after that. Other than the first half inning we won the game, it’s a 2-1 game other than that first half. We threw a lot of pitches in that inning and pitch count came into play later.”
After giving up a single to start the game off, Falcons’ starting pitcher Drake Adams walked the next three batters, a few the result of questionable calls behind the plate, resulting in the first run of the game.
With one run already in and the bases still loaded with no outs, North Myrtle Beach capitalized following the RBI walk with a two-RBI single by the next batter.
The Chiefs scored their fourth run and final run of the inning off an error by Falcons shortstop Quez Mullins.
From there, Adams rolled, shutting the Chiefs out from the second inning through the sixth, before giving way to Gage Weatherford in the seventh.
Darlington found some life offensively in the third inning when Eric McElveen doubled down the left field line, scoring one. Matthew Demaurice followed that up with RBI groundout quickly cutting a 4-0 deficit in half.
“I thought we battled, I thought we played well,” Gearhart said. “It was a special season, it was a fight, a roller coaster of a season too, you know, lots of up, lots of downs, but in the long run I think we got better as a program, I think we learned a lot. Hats off to the seniors, they are a big part of the reason why this program has taken the steps in the right direction.”
With the lead cut to two and a runner on third, the Falcons had a chance to get another run, but a strike out ended the threat.
The Falcons’ bats went quiet for the next three innings following that third inning before they came back to life for a moment in the seventh.
After North Myrtle Beach added a run in the top of seventh off of Weatherford to increase the Chiefs lead to 5-2, Darlington had three outs left to score three runs or its season was over.
Chase Weatherford led the inning off with an infield single and Jalin Mullins reached after an error by the Chiefs second baseman, giving the Falcons two men on with no outs and McElveen, a deep ball threat coming up to bat.
Needing a hit and hoping for a homerun the Falcons, instead got a 6-4-3 double play crushing any chance for a rally. Demaurice grounded out to end the game on the next at bat.
Darlington finishes the season with an 11-12 record overall.
Darlington opened up its playoff run this past Tuesday, April 25 with a 1-0 road win over the Chiefs before losing to AC Flora on the road 9-2 on Thursday.