MACON, Ga. — It was an incredible ride for Denmark baseball in its inaugural season, but it just did not end the way they wanted.
The Danes fell to Northside-Columbus, head coach David Smart’s former team, in the Class 4A state finals May 21. Denmark lost a heartbreaker in Game 1 before taking a lopsided loss in Game 2 to end its title hopes.
To reach the finals was impressive enough, though. Denmark’s team has no seniors, they had to put together a run to reach the playoffs, and then dispatched three No. 1 seeds — including nationally-ranked Blessed Trinity — to reach the championship series.
The Danes also looked poised to take a vital series lead in Game 1, but Northside-Columbus earned a dramatic, walk-off win.
Denmark opened a 5-1 lead behind four hits and a Patriots error in the third inning, but Northside-Columbus knotted the game in the bottom of the fourth with three hits, a walk and an error.
Nic Ferrer earned his third RBI of the contest in the fifth with a single to put the Danes ahead 6-5.
Denmark retained its lead into the seventh inning and forced an out on the first pitch of the frame. Down to their final two outs, the Patriots put the tying run on second with a double. Smaran Ramanathan relieved Drew Clare on the mound, but he hit the first batter he faced and gave up a single to load the bases. The Patriots then tied the game with a sacrifice fly.
With two runners still on base, the Patriots’ next batter hit a fly ball to left field. Denmark’s Gray Wilson got under the ball, but did not secure the catch, and the error allowed the Patriots’ to take Game 1.
Denmark’s Dalton Hansard pitched 4.1 inning allowing five hits and four runs with four strikeouts and four walks. Clare went two innings, allowing one earned run.
After a gut-wrenching loss, the Danes had to regroup for Game 2 less than an hour later.
While Game 1 featured a tight contest throughout, the Patriots built a sizeable lead early in the second game of the doubleheader and added five runs late to take the series with an 11-2 win.
Jack Whitlock earned the start for the Danes and fell behind early with two walks and two hits allowing the Patriots to open a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
Two hits and walk in the third inning stretched the lead to 3-0 before Clare was called in for relief. But the right-hander got off to an inauspicious start with a Denmark error, a walk and two singles pushing the margin to 6-0.
Northside-Columbus led 10-0 in the sixth inning before the Danes got on the scoreboard with RBI singles from Jaxson Corr and Trevor Byrk, but it was too little too late for Denmark’s championship hopes.
Denmark began its season with an 8-15 record but closed out the regular season with five straight wins to earn the No. 4 seed from Region 7-AAAA.
The Danes then took down three No. 1 seeds in the postseason. After sweeping Northwest Whitfield and St. Pius X in two games, Denmark won its quarterfinals series against West Laurens in three games.
The Danes then took on region foes Blessed Trinity in the semifinals, downing the Titans in a dramatic, three-game series.