COVINGTON — Errors ended Darton State College’s hope of playing in the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo. with their 5-1 loss to Columbia (Tenn.) State Community College at Georgia Perimeter College on Monday.
Columbia will play Iowa Western in the first round of the world series starting on Saturday.
“Take nothing away from Columbia, they have a great ball club but this is a great team too,” Darton coach Scot Hemmings said. “We had 44 wins after 47 last year. This sophomore class has set the foundation for this program.”
Statistically, both teams were even with 10 hits each, while Darton’s Ryan LaPointe had the only extra-base hit with a double.
“Their coach did a phenomenal job of preparing them, and we made four critical errors and two balks that cost us five runs,” Hemmings said.
The Cavaliers’ (44-20) problems started in the top of the first inning when Brandon Sharpe thought a foul ball hit his foot. But it was ruled fair resulting in a double play to end Dalton’s half of the inning.
Darton opened the door for the Chargers (45-12) to get on the scoreboard first when an error allowed Sam Few to cross the plate. Ronnie Jebavy made it 2-0 on a Desi Ammons groundout.
With Ammons on third, Riley Delgado hit the ball but the Darton defense decided to throw the runner out at first allowing the run to score and Josh Wilson to advance to third. A balk by Dalton pitcher Cole Amtmann allowed Wilson to cross the plate making it 4-0 in the third.
The Cavilers pitcher Davis Adkins took over in the fourth, keeping the Chargers from scoring until the sixth inning.
Darton had a chance to cut into the Chargers lead in the fifth as LaPointe’s double put runners in scoring position with two outs. But Columbia pitcher Cody Puckett got a harmless fly ball out that ended the threat.
Puckett pitched 7 1/3 innings allowing eight hits, while giving up two walks and striking out seven.
“It was 4-0 and we had runners on second and third with a chance to make it 4-2. But a fly out was a huge, huge part of the game,” Hemmings said. “Because we make it 4-2 with our two best hitters coming up, that could’ve made it 4-3 or 4-4.”
The Cavilers got on the board in the sixth after three straight hits loaded the bases. A fielder’s choice by William Golden let Sharpe score making it 4-1. However, Columbia regained the four-run lead in the bottom half of the inning to make it 5-1.
Tavin Thompson and Riliani Familia paced Darton with two hits each. Leading Columbia at the plate with two hits each were Tyler Fullerton and Ammons.
“The bottom of line is that Columbia played better than us,” Hemmings said. “The game is 0-0 ballgame and we had our chances to get back into it. But at the end of the day all the credit goes to Columbia, they played better than us. But again, their guy makes some pitches and Davis Adkins was phenomenal.”