Missed opportunities and mistakes snap Falcons region win streak
By Drake Horton, Contributing Writer
The Darlington Falcons dropped its first region game of the year Thursday night at home to the Marlboro County by a score of 4-1 and the reason for it was simple, missed opportunities.
“They capitalized on our mistakes and we didn’t take advantage of guys on base,” Darlington head coach Dennis Gearhart said after the game. “We have to make adjustments at the plate; we hit too many balls in the air. Any high school team can make those plays. We have to hit the ball, get the ball down and take advantage of guys on base.”
Darlington left six runners on base, four which made it to at least second base, but were never able to cash in offensively on the opportunities, having scored its only run of the game in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Brycen Brown.
Marlboro County’s breakthrough inning came in the top of the fourth. Down 1-0 and Falcons pitcher Bryant Huggins in command, the Bulldogs led the inning off with a solo homerun over the left field wall.
“I thought Huggy pitched great,” Gearhart said on Huggins pitching performance. “He missed a spot and Barfield is a good hitter and he did what good hitters are supposed to do, he let one ride.”
The damage did not stop there, however. Two errors in the inning, one by Huggins and one by catcher Cameron Norris ended up allowing another Marlboro County run to score, giving the Bulldogs their first lead of the game and the eventual win.
The Bulldogs added two more runs for insurance purposes in the seventh inning off of pitcher Drake Adams, who had come in after Huggins had thrown six complete innings giving up only one earned run to go along with the unearned run.
With the loss, Darlington splits this season series against Marlboro County, having defeated the Bulldogs earlier in the week 8-4 on Tuesday, in Bennettsville.
“That’s a good baseball team; Marlboro County is a good baseball team,” Gearhart said, giving the Bulldogs credit. We expected it to be a fight. We threw a punch earlier in the week against them and they came back and got us tonight. The good thing about it is it’s a split and there is still a lot of time, a lot of region play left.”
And more importantly Gearhart expects his team to take this slight hiccup in stride, especially since nothing from a goal standpoint has changed for Darlington.
“Tonight is over with,” Gearhart said. “We are going to move on, there is nothing we can do about it, but work on getting better. It’s just a small bump in the road, but we have a long road ahead. The top four teams in the region go and right now we are sitting tied for second place. So we are still where we want to be. One of our goals is to have a home playoff game and that is still easily within reach and depending on how things shake out you have a shot at the region title.”
Darlington’s overall record is now 5-6 overall and more importantly 3-1 in the region. The Falcons now get ready to play in the Cheraw Spring Break Tournament this week before getting back to region play in their quest to capture the region championship.