Poor defense, lack of hitting sets up shutout loss for Falcons
By Drake Horton
A good start soured by an atrocious third inning sealed Darlington’s fate against the Red Foxes as Hartsville defeated the Falcons 10-0 in six innings Saturday in Hartsville.
With the winner clinching second place in the region and a guaranteed home playoff spot, the stakes were high in a game that had already been rained out twice during the week and in the third inning it was as if the pressure got the better of Darlington.
Falcons starting pitcher Gage Weatherford had made quick work of the Red Foxes in the first two innings, but in the third frame, Hartsville got its first hit of the game and from there it was like a domino effect.
“It’s the second time through the lineup, and that’s what you expect from a good hitting team; you expect them to make some adjustments and come to the plate with a different approach,” Darlington head coach Dennis Gearhart said.
That one hit turned into five and those five hits turned into six runs, but that was not even the beginning of it.
Darlington committed three errors in the inning alone and also allowed Hartsville to score on a trick play with runners on first and third.
It was not just one inning, however, that sunk Darlington against the Red Foxes.
It was a combination of bad plays and poor hitting throughout the game that resulted in the 10-run defeat.
“I’ve had a lot of conversations after games when I come and talk to you and it’s the same story, you can’t give extra outs to good baseball teams,” Gearhart said, discussing the poor defense played against Hartsville.
“We certainly didn’t play our best today and they took advantage of it.”
Darlington had no answer at the plate for Hartsville starting pitcher Garrett Gainey and the southpaw was dominant the entire game, holding the Falcons to just three hits.
“I could tell in the first inning that Garret was on and we were not going to need a lot of runs with the way he was throwing,” Hartsville head coach Tony Gainey said.
And while the Falcons had only three hits for the entire game, it had double the errors, finishing with six, but that may not have been the worst part of Darlington’s defense against Hartsville.
After getting played on the first and third trick play in the third inning, you might have thought Darlington would be more aware and not let something like that happen again. Wrong.
Hartsville pulled it off again in the sixth and final inning of the game, but instead of one run scoring however, both runners scored as Darlington committed throwing errors.
Back-to-back doubles to right-center following the second successful trick play wrapped the game up, sealing the fate of each team’s playoff seeding.
With playoffs two weeks out, but the region done, Darlington will play three non-conference games this week as Hartsville prepares for the South Eastern Baseball Classic.