Fifth inning nightmare dooms Darlington against Lakewood

First baseman Gage Weatherford tags a Lakewood player returning to the bag. Photo by Drake Horton

By Drake Horton, Contributing Writer

Sometimes all it takes is one inning to change the course of a game. For the Darlington Falcons this past Friday night not only did one inning change the course of the game, it changed the course of the season.

Leading 4-2, the Falcons defense imploded in the top of the fifth inning, giving up four runs, and was never able to regroup, losing 7-4 to the Lakewood Gators, thus eliminating the Falcons from any chance of finishing second in the region and earning that home playoff game.

After pulling off an unexpected 3-0 win over the Gators in Sumter earlier in the week, Darlington had begun to position itself to finish second in the region. Instead, the Falcons will now finish either third or fourth, forcing them to start the playoffs on the road.

“I’m disappointed in the loss, but when it is all said and done it’s just another game and we got another big week next week and then we move into the playoffs,” Darlington head coach Dennis Gearhart said after the game.

Through four innings it looked to be a promising night for the Falcons. Then came the fifth inning and it was as if the wheels came off.

Lakewood started the inning off with back-to-back singles and from there it went downhill. Following the two singles, the Falcons committed three errors, including one where three players were surrounding the ball and threw a wild pitch that helped result in the four runs the Gators scored in the inning.

“You can’t give good baseball teams extra outs,” Gearhart said. “I think that is the difference in the game is they took advantage of some mistakes we made on defense. We gave them some extra outs. They’re a good baseball team.”

Prior to that inning, Darlington’s defense had been particularly strong, having committed just two errors, one in the first and one in the fourth and the results showed with the Falcons leading 4-2 going into the fifth.

Despite Lakewood jumping out to an early 2-0 lead through one and half innings, the Falcons put together a superb bottom half of the second inning, pushing four runs across the board.

It all started when center fielder Mike Dixon hit a perfectly place single inside the infield and Keyshawn Taylor smashed a double to left-center field.

With runners on second and third and just one out, Darlington looked like it was ready to bust the fluid gates open, but when Malike Cooper followed up those two hits with a strikeout all of a sudden it didn’t look like anything was going to materialize.

But even with two outs, the Falcons found a little magic as the next three batters all connected for some type of RBI base hit. Gage Weatherford hit a two-RBI single, Jake Jones followed with a RBI double and Quay Gandy capped it off with RBI single of his own.

That second inning, however, was the only offense the Falcons had against the Gators. For the other six innings Lakewood kept the Darlington hitters at bay.

Lakewood scored its seventh and final run of the game in the sixth inning.

Darlington is now 12-8 on the year, 3-3 in region play.

Weekly Recap
In the final non-conference game of the year, the Falcons went on the road and beat the Wilson Tigers 7-4 this past Wednesday.

Matthew DeMaurice takes his turn at the plate, hoping to turn the game in favor of the Falcons but unfortunately the game ended 7-4 for the Lakewood Gators. Photo by Drake Horton

Author: Duane Childers

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