By Drake Horton
It was a night of respect, a night of festivity, a night of opportunity; it was a night of remembrance.
With the final home game of the season coming against non-region foe, the West Florence Knights, on Monday, April 13, the Darlington Falcons’ baseball team’s regular starting nine gave way to some well deserving seniors.
“It’s good to see those guys get in there and play especially when they are not getting to play much and the way they are working at practice,” Darlington baseball head coach Billy Sylvester said on his senior class. “They’re doing everything and they’re here on time and they come to work. At practice they’re working their tail off and for them to get out there and we can honor them as seniors, I’m proud of them.”
The mood before the game was relaxing. There was chicken being grilled for the players after the game, the parents of the seniors were there to be recognized, and the players were in throwback uniforms.
Unfortunately, while there was so much good that came from the night, the thing that the players wanted the most was unable to happen, which was to win. Instead, the Falcons ended up losing 11-1 to the Knights.
“That’s two 10 run games in a row,” a dejected Sylvester said after the second straight 10-run loss by Darlington in a row.
While the score ended up being lopsided, after the first two innings it looked as if Darlington and its unfamiliar lineup might be able to pull off an impressive victory over the 4A school.
“I thought they played fine,” Sylvester said on the play of the revamped, senior heavy lineup for senior night. “A lot of them are not starters and they got in there and battled. They worked the count, made plays. I’m pleased with them.”
After West Florence jumped on Darlington quick to grab a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, the Falcons’ revamped lineup made some noise and answered one of those two runs scored by the Knights when Ladson Carter knocked in senior pinch-runner Jared Ball on a long single to right field.
Both teams were able to get one base runner in the second inning with the Knights even getting its runner all the way the third base before both starting pitchers, Taylor Spangler of Darlington and Noah Matthews of West Florence pitched out of the jam.
That, however, was the last part of the game to be competitive. West Florence capitalized on multiple mistakes made by the Falcons in the third inning that allowed the Knights to push five runs across, extending their lead to 7-1.
“We went out of the zone a few times,” Sylvester said on the Knights big inning. “Missed a few pitches, kind of the same thing tonight. We get ahead of the hitters and we are throwing too good of pitches right now when we are ahead in the count, 0-2,1-2 and they (opponents) are getting big hits with guys on when we have a chance to put them away.”
West Florence added two more runs in the fourth inning and the game looked like it may end in just five innings, but the Knights went scoreless during the next two inning before their final two runs in the top of the seventh.
Darlington never scored again after the one run in the first.
The Falcons split their other two games of the week, both which were on the road, losing 10-0 to Marlboro County in six innings on Tuesday, April 14 while beating Lakewood 7-5 on Thursday.
Darlington now has an uphill battle to just finish second in the region.
photos for purchase or to share on social media.DHS Varsity Baseball Senior Night