Darton's Nate Ferrell was in a slump coming into Tuesday's game against South Georgia College, but he notched a double to lift the Cavs to their eighth straight win.
ALBANY — Nate Ferrell was fighting demons at the plate coming into Tuesday’s conference opener for Darton State College.
Ferrell, an Andrew College transfer, was riding a string of 0-fers and came up 0-for-3 in the eighth against South Georgia College.
But he snapped that streak and delivered the go-ahead hit to help the Cavs pull away with a 7-5 win, extending the program’s winning streak to eight games.
“The last few games it’s been a struggle to find the holes,” said Ferrell, who sliced an opposite field double that one-hopped the left field wall and scored Rashad Billups for a 6-5 lead. “I don’t really think about it at the plate. I just focus on one pitch that I can drive and I got it.”
Nothing exorcises the demons like a go-ahead, opposite-field liner. Consider the slump over.
“Nate has not been swinging the bat for us, and then all of a sudden he hits a double off the wall to go up and then Casey James does what he does,” Darton head coach Scot Hemmings said.
Ferrell’s hit knocked South Georgia College starter Spencer Thomas from the game and James followed with a run-scoring single off SGC reliever Tyler Bashlor, who hit 96-97 miles per hour on the radar gun (as well as two hit batters) and had the college scouts buzzing afterward.
“We’re starting to believe in each other,” said James, Darton’s first baseman who went 3-for-4 with an RBI. “We’ve got a strong lineup and strong pitching. We never quit believing (Tuesday) and made it happen.”
Darton gave up a 5-3 lead in the seventh after Cavs’ starter A.J. Sunstrom put two base runners on before giving way to reliever and former Crisp County star pitcher Davis Adkins. Adkins allowed three consecutive hits and two runs before the third potential run was cut down at the plate on a relay throw from right fielder Brandon Sharpe to James at first. James threw home to Davis Knapp at the plate for the final out to save a run.
Atkins got the win despite the rough inning, and John Harman pitched the eighth and ninth to pick up the save. Harman got out of two-out jam in the eighth with runners on second and third by inducing a weak roller down the first base line that Knapp pounced on and fired to first to escape with a 5-5 tie game before Ferrell and James came through in the bottom half of the inning.
“That was a great game,” Hemmings said. “The guys just played the way we teach them to play. They played phenomenal. Nine innings, no errors, 10 hits. Hey, I’ll take it any day of the week. We’re 1-0 in conference, they’re 0-1.”
Sunstrom got a no-decision while throwing 6 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on five hits with three strikeouts and a walk. Spencer (1-3) took the loss despite a solid 7 1/3 innings, allowing six runs (three earned) on nine hits and no walks.
“(Sunstrom) competed and gave us enough to win,” Hemmings said of Darton’s starter. “Our players never quit. They threw their best at us and we never got rattled.”
Cody Wofford added three RBI for Darton, while Riliani Familia collected two hits. Zach Brigham led SGC with two RBI.
The red-hot Cavs (14-4, 1-0 Region XVII) will next go to Douglas on Friday and Saturday for a three-game set with South Georgia College (9-11, 0-1 Region XVII).