Darton pitcher Cody Wofford
ALBANY — In his inaugural season as the Darton College baseball coach, Scot Hemmings got his first signature win Tuesday.
And he can thank Cody Wofford and Co. for that.
Wofford drove in the game-winning run at Cavalier Field in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Cavs past the No. 2-ranked team in the nation, Chipola College, 4-3, in come-from-behind fashion.
“It’s a great, great win for the program,” said Hemmings, whose Cavs are now 6-4. “We’ve lost three of our four games by one run, and our motto coming into Tuesday was, ‘Let’s find a way to win (the close ones) and stop findings ways to lose them.’ ”
But Darton didn’t just win a close one Tuesday, it emerged victorious in a heartstopper — one that saw the Cavs trailing, 3-0, heading into the bottom of the eighth inning.
Kyle Oglesby (5 IP, 4Ks, 6 H) had held Chipola scoreless through five innings before giving up three in the sixth and getting pulled for Ethan Glass, who got the Cavs out a jam and then gave way to eventual winning pitcher Andrew Crumbley.
But when Darton stepped to the plate in the bottom of the eighth — looking like it was on its way to another tough defeat — something special happened, said Hemmings.
“I just felt like the kids were about to be buying into what we were trying to teach, and that feeling came alive in the eighth,” he said.
Ryan Lemonds led off with a single and Russell Melton came on to pinch run, then Tripp Calhoun got a hit, followed by an error by the Chipola right fielder, who dropped a pop-up and allowed Lemonds to score to make it 3-1.
Crumbley, who pitched a scoreless eighth, then did the same in the ninth, paving the way for late-inning heroics from Wofford.
Evan Carr led off with a single, then Davis Knapp went down swinging to make it one out and one on. Kevin Manos, who finished 2-for-4, was then beaned in the head by a pitch and took his base with runners at first and second. Melton then came on and bunted safely to load the bases. A passed ball by the Chipola pitcher then brought in Carr to make it 3-2. Calhoun then reached on an infield single to bring home Manos and tie the game.
Wofford, who finished 3-for-5, then stepped to the plate and smacked an RBI single over the shortstop’s head to bring home Melton for the huge home win.
Hemmings lauded Wofford and the team afterward.
“Wofford started slow, but he’s been hitting the ball lately and he’s been our clear leader energy-wise,” he said. “The whole team came together to make this happen. I’m very proud.”
Darton returns to action today at home against Wallace Dothan at 4 p.m.