Seniors sensational in final regular season home game, beat Lakewood
By Drake Horton
It is what every coach hopes for and every player dreams of; riding off into the sunset with one final performance that can have a lasting impression on one’s legacy.
This past Tuesday, April 19, the seniors of the Darlington Falcons baseball team did just that.
In an atmosphere with so much emotion running through it, players can easily get caught up in the moment and lose focus on what is at hand.
That did not happen to this Falcons team. Instead, it was the complete opposite.
While there was a pregame celebration, food cooking and an array of family members all over the park these Falcons had only one thing in mind; win and that is exactly what they did.
From the start Darlington controlled the game in all facets, displaying great pitching and defense all the while making the most of opportunities at the plate, showing how much this team has grown on the offensive side of the ball.
That combination equated into what seemed to be a perfect game on a perfect night which led to flawless 6-0 win over the Lakewood Gators.
“It’s a tribute to our seniors and the hard work they have put forth the last six, five, four years, however many years they have been part of the program,” Darlington head coach Dennis Gearhart said after the game. “We have 18 guys that are dressing varsity and at any point and time somebody is going to have to come in and contribute in a key spot and you saw it tonight. It’s just a tribute to them that’s their hard work over the last several years paying off.”
Leading the Falcons on the mound was an all too familiar name, in senior Bryant Huggins. Huggins, who has been stable for the Falcons over the last few years, went six complete shutout innings showcasing his talents in front of the home crowd faithful.
“I knew we had to win these two games this week to get a home playoff game, so I had to come out here and give my team a good chance to win,” Huggins said after the win. “They fought with me, they played good defense and they gave me some runs to come out and shut them down and when they had runners on they came through and got them off for me.”
Those runs that Huggins spoke of, the six that Darlington scored throughout the game, started in the first inning when senior third baseman Taylor Spangler executed a perfect hit and run, catching the Lakewood defense out of position, driving in senior shortstop Garrett Revell, who led the bottom half of the first inning off with a double down the left field line.
“It was a pitch outside and I went with the ball,” Spangler said, commenting on what was actually the game-winning hit. “I knew I had to score the run and execute in the first inning. We are playing good as a team right now.”
Darlington added two more runs in the fourth, one run in the fifth and two more in the sixth, but none may have been a memorable as senior Cameron Norris’s solo blast over the left field wall to start the bottom half of the sixth inning off.
A reserve catcher who has played sparingly, Norris was given an opportunity to bat in the bottom of the sixth with the Falcons up 4-0 and he made the most of the chance by hitting the homerun.
“I was just so happy when I hit it,” Norris, replaying that defining moment. “I kind of just hit it and everything went blank and I just knew it went out. That was kind of my last time touching home for my senior year. It’s good, I was excited.”
Two other seniors that had productive nights at the plate were first baseman Brycen Brown, who went 2-4 with a RBI and catcher Ladson Carter, who went 3-4.
With the win, Darlington is one win away from clinching second place in the region and a home playoff game.
“I think right now we are playing some of our best baseball and that is exactly what we want moving forward, rolling into the playoffs,” Gearhart said on his team’s play right now. “Play good baseball and you never know how far you can go.”
Mobile users, please click link to view photos: DHS Varsity Baseball Senior Night