Former Lee County star Matt Aldrich, left, and Darton teammate Tyler Oglesby held Pensacola State College — one of the top-ranked teams in the JUCO ranks — to just one run Friday in a 1-0 loss in the Cavs’ home opener.
ALBANY — If you were looking for offensive fireworks and you stopped by Darton’s Cavalier Field on Friday, you came to the wrong place.
Darton pitchers Matthew Aldrich and Tyler Oglesby and Pensacola State College ace Danny Davis took turns making opposing hitters look silly in a game that Pensacola held on to win, 1-0.
Davis, a sophomore who has already committed to Central Florida, walked off the mound with the victory, while the Darton duo combined to throw 12 strikeouts and allow just seven hits.
Aldrich and Oglesby, even in a loss, had a confident message after their nine innings of work.
“I would put us up against any pitchers in the conference,” said Aldrich, a former Lee County star who transferred to Darton from Valdosta State this season.
Oglesby quickly chimed in.
“Like he said, you can put us two up against any team,” said Oglesby, a freshman from Savannah. “Pensacola is a top-ranked team. We played (and beat) Gulf Coast and Wallace State Hanceville this past weekend, and we have shown we can play with the best.”
The Cavs (2-2) were a hit away from knocking off the Pirates (4-2), who ran into some trouble in the ninth inning. Davis Knapp reached on a dropped third strike to lead off, then was sacrificed to second by Bryant Alonso. An infield single by Parker Nix put runners on the corners with just one out, but Tripp Calhoun and Kevin Manos each struck out, leaving both runners stranded in scoring position.
“It was a nail-biter,” said Pensacola coach Keith Little, who was impressed with the squad Darton coach Scot Hemmings has put together in his first season. “From what I saw (Friday) and for getting a late start in recruiting, he is doing a good job over here. His pitchers threw strikes, his hitters battled at the plate; they made all the routine plays.”
Pensacola was just a hair better. The Pirates got the game’s only run in the fifth inning when former University of Miami infielder Frankie Ratcliff hit a screaming line drive near first baseman Casey James, who dove and knocked it down but couldn’t relay it to first base in time.
The infield single scored Roy Moulder, who had led off the inning with a single, for the game’s only run.
“Whoever made the least amount of mistakes was going to win,” Hemmings said. “I don’t even know if that diving play by Casey was a mistake. The ball just got through and it ended up beating us. But it was a good job on our part. We are a bunch of young freshmen who went out there and competed with one of the better teams we will play all year.”
Davis threw seven innings and allowed two hits and struck out seven before being relieved by Stefan del Pino in the eighth inning. Pino retired three straight hitters, and Grant Bush recorded the three-out save in the ninth.
Oglesby, who won his first start last Saturday against Gulf Coast, pitched the first five innings for the Cavs, striking out four and allowing four hits. Aldrich, who pitched a gem in the season opener Jan. 27 against Wallace State Hanceville, threw the final four innings and tallied seven strikeouts.
“(Davis) has signed at Central Florida, and he is a Division I pitcher for a reason,” Hemmings said. “I thought we matched him pitch for pitch and out for out. You gotta tip your hat to Aldrich and Oglesby. They threw an outstanding game.”
Darton managed just four singles by Alonso, Nix, James and Logan Pethel. The Cavs next play Tuesday at home against Macon State.