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Darton baseball sweeps, stays perfect in region

Darton sophomore Kevin Manos knocked in six runs during Saturday’s doubleheader and is fourth in the nation with 36 RBI.

Darton sophomore Kevin Manos knocked in six runs during Saturday’s doubleheader and is fourth in the nation with 36 RBI.

ALBANY — Everyone knows the three most important things to remember when buying real estate are, “location, location, location.’’

It’s just about the same thing with the Darton baseball team, a group that knows what the three most important words for a baseball program are — rotation, rotation, rotation.

That’s life at Darton these days, where the team ERA is 3.10, and the four-man rotation looks good enough to carry the Cavs all season.

Sure, they have 28 conference games left, but it’s impossible not to take notice at what Darton accomplished this weekend.

The Cavaliers not only swept South Georgia, but slammed the door Saturday with back-to-back gems from the bottom of the rotation to beat one of the top teams in the conference, 3-0 and 7-1 at Darton.

With the No. 3 and No. 4 pitchers starting, Darton held South Georgia to just one run over two seven-inning games.

“I love our pitching,’’ said third baseman Evan Carr. “It’s great to play behind them. They keep the ball low and they throw strikes.’’

They throw strikes and zeros.

Sean Thomas, the third pitcher in the rotation, threw four innings of no-hit, shutout ball in the opener, striking out five to pick up his first win of the season, and A. J. Sunstrom, the No. 4 pitcher in the rotation, went the distance in the second game, allowing one run on six hits while striking out six.

“We gave up four earned runs in four games (this week),’’ said Darton coach Scot Hemmings, whose team beat South Georgia on the road on Tuesday and then completed a three-game sweep at home on Saturday.

“We had an unbelievable weekend,’’ he said. “We did a good job against a great team. They went to the (junior college) World Series last year and when we played them in the fall, they scored 11 runs on us.

“We pitched well,’’ he said. “If we pitch this way and hit the ball like we did and play defense like we did (this weekend) we’ll be OK.’’

Darton is now 15-7 for the season and 4-0 in the region after beating South Georgia four times this week.

The top of the rotation took care of business in the first two games as ace Matt Aldridge, a freshman from Lee County who came over from Valdosta State this season, won on Tuesday and then pitched one inning in relief in the opener on Saturday. He has a 1.65 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 44 innings.

Darton’s No. 2 pitcher, Tyler Oglesby, beat South Georgia (9-16 and 0-4) on Friday and now has a 1.88 ERA to give Darton a 1-2 punch.

Hemmings said Thomas is as tough as anyone.

“Our No. 3 pitcher Sean Thomas actually has as good of stuff as anyone,’’ Hemmings said. “He was throwing between 86 and 90 mph (on Saturday).’’

Thomas didn’t give up a hit.

“I was feeling pretty good,’’ Thomas said. “I usually don’t go four innings. We’re kind of building up.’’

So is the entire Darton staff.

“Our rotation is really good,’’ Thomas said. “I’d say it’s one of the best.’’

Carr said the rest of the team is living off the pitching.

“It all starts with the pitching,’’ said Carr, a leadoff man who gets it started at the plate “Without pitching we don’t win. They set the tone I think we have some of the best pitching around.’’

Carr ignited Darton in both games, scoring four times and driving in a run in each game of the doubleheader. Carr has now scored 24 runs in 21 games

“This weekend was huge,’’ Carr said. “It gives us momentum for the whole conference schedule.’’

Kevin Manos had a monster weekend, and put the lid on South Georgia by driving in six runs in the doubleheader. His third-inning two-run, two-out single lifted Darton to a 3-1 lead in the nightcap, and then he hit his fourth triple of the season in the fifth, driving in Bryant Alonso, who doubled home Davis Knapp. Manos is hitting .380 and has 36 RBI, which is the fourth most in the nation.

Darton added two more runs in the sixth when Casey James tripled home Parker Nix, who had an RBI in the opening game, and Russell Melton drove James home with a single to make it a 7-1 game.