Darton baseball coach Scot Hemmings
ALBANY — For the first time this season, Darton baseball coach Scot Hemmings walked off his home field without a victory.
And it was a walk he saw coming all the way back in the second inning of Tuesday’s shocking 4-3 loss to lowly ABAC.
“I said it in the second inning to (assistant coach Justin) Huff that I would like to see us with better energy and tempo,” Hemmings said. “Eventually they will have to learn that you still have to play the game. You can’t just show up, walk out on the field and things go your way all the time.”
Things had been going Darton’s way all season entering Tuesday’s game as the nationally-ranked No. 12 Cavs came into the Region XVII contest with a perfect 14-0 record at home, a seven-game winning streak and 22 victories in their last 23 games.
But the Cavs got just six hits — including only three in the final eight innings — against an ABAC team that had lost nine of its previous 12 entering Tuesday’s game.
“It’s not just that this was an upset, it’s that we need to play like we are capable of instead of sitting on our hands and expecting to come out and win,” Darton sophomore Davis Knapp said.
The loss was stunning for the Cavs (28-6, 15-2), who entered the game with a four-game lead in the region standings and plenty of momentum from a four-game sweep of Andrew last week.
Equally as stunning was how the Cavs played in the second through seventh innings when they brought a minimum 18 batters to the plate. It was during that stretch when Hemmings walked into the dugout and told his players that their effort was “embarrassing.”
“I was just embarrassed with the way we were carrying ourselves,” Hemmings said. “Our game is not flying out and striking out. (ABAC) has lost two shortstops to injury and had a pitcher out there at shortstop, but we are sitting there giving them easy outs by flying out. That’s what I was embarrassed about, not losing to ABAC. I was embarrassed because that’s not the way we teach hitting.”
ABAC starter Riley Sparks gave up three runs in the first inning but then cruised through the next six and watched relievers Justin Hicks and Matt Moses keep Darton off the scoreboard in the eighth and ninth innings.
The Stallions (12-21, 6-11) moved into sixth place in the region with the win and will host the Cavs for a single game Thursday and a doubleheader Saturday as they look to creep back up the region standings.
“Just getting a win in conference means the world to us, whether it’s against Darton or against (last place) East Georgia,” ABAC coach Jeff Kilgore said. “This gives us some momentum, and we will see what we can do with that.”
The Cavs haven’t lost a weekend series since Feb. 9 when they dropped two of three to Northwest Florida State, but midweek games have caused them plenty of trouble.
They are 22-2 since Feb. 9, and both of those losses have been a single game early in the week — and even the games they have won on Tuesdays and Wednesdays have been close.
“I am tired of coming out here on Tuesday and trying to get them fired up to play, and you saw it took us eight innings to start playing (Tuesday),” Hemmings said. “It’s one of those games where you shoulda, coulda, woulda. But at the end of the day we got beat. We still have a great season going, and we will see what happens going forward.”
Knapp, who was the only Darton batter with more than one hit Tuesday, didn’t have an explanation for his team’s midweek struggles.
“I don’t think it gets it your mind and affects the way you play,” Knapp said. “More than anything it should be a motivator, and that’s the frustration. We know that we have had let-downs on Tuesdays, and we need to do something within to make a difference.”
The Cavs jumped on Sparks early in the first inning with Kody Adams reaching on an error and Knapp and Cody Wofford picking up back-to-back singles to load the bases. Nate Ferrell knocked in Adams on a sacrifice fly, and first baseman Casey James brought in two more with a double to right-center field to give Darton an early 3-1 lead.
But then the Darton bats disappeared.
Sparks allowed just three base runners over the next six innings, and all three were either picked off or the victim of a double play.
“We played unbelievable last week at Andrew and probably played our best four games of the year, and then we showed up (Tuesday) and got off to a great start — we got up 3-1 — but then we went silent for the next eight innings. I can’t explain it,” Hemmings said.
The Stallions, meanwhile, got a two-run home run from Adam Boan in the second inning and an RBI double from Brad Blount to take a 4-3 lead.
Darton starter Brandon Goldsmith allowed three runs and five hits in three innings of work, but it was reliever Chris Long who got the loss after allowing the go-ahead run in the fifth.
The Cavs put runners in scoring position in the eighth and ninth innings but left them stranded to lose for the first time since March 20. Knapp said it’s a loss that can turn into a positive as the regular season winds down.
“Coach Hemmings says he hates losing and to remember the feeling,” Knapp said. “There shouldn’t be any better motivator than coming in here and playing like we did (Tuesday).”
GSW golf team finishes strong, takes 5th at Buc Invitational in Fla.
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — The 22nd-ranked Georgia Southwestern men’s golf team rallied Tuesday afternoon at the Buccaneer Invitational as the Hurricanes used strong second and third rounds to move up five spots from Day 1 and finish the tournament in fifth place out of 14 teams.
After lightning suspended second-round play Monday, GSW finished the round Tuesday with a score of 293 (+9). GSW made their big move up the leaderboard in the final round as the Hurricanes finished with a strong score of 278 (-6) in order to earn the fifth-place finish with a 3-round 871 (+19).
Andrew Ritchot led GSW with a strong final two rounds. The sophomore carded a second-round score of 3-under 68, and a final round 4-under 67, to finish with a three-round score of 4-under.
Ritchot climbed 25 slots from the first round to finish tied for fifth overall in the 84-player field at the 6,733-yard Normandy Shores Golf Club.
Senior Nate Gahman of Lee County carded second and third round scores of 73 and 72 respectively on Tuesday to finish tied for 30th with a 3-round score of 218 (+5).
No. 1 Nova Southeastern shot a three-round 827 (-25) to claim the team title.
GSW returns to the links on April 20th at the Peach Belt Conference Championships at Calloway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga.