Hours after winning their conference championship Saturday, two LaGrange College baseball players were among three people killed in a car crash in Georgia.
Freshman pitchers Stephen Bartolotta, 18, and Jacob Brown, 19, died in the crash, Troup County Coroner Erin Hackley confirmed to USA TODAY. Rico Dunn, 24, was in another vehicle and was the third victim killed in the head-on collision.
The deaths of the two players came hours after LaGrange College defeated North Carolina Wesleyan 10–7 on Saturday to win a best-of-three series. The win gave the Panthers a fifth consecutive USA South championship and an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Baseball tournament.
“I am deeply saddened to make you aware that we have suffered the loss of two students last night. Baseball players Stephen Bartolotta and Jacob Brown were both killed in a tragic car accident,” LaGrange College president Susanna Baxter said in a statement on Sunday.
“Coming on the heels of the team’s conference championship win yesterday, this news hits our baseball players especially hard. There simply are no words.”
The crash occurred around 9:15 p.m. ET on Saturday when a 2015 Honda Accord driven by Brown tried to pass a 2019 Accord in a no-passing zone, according to the Georgia State Patrol. To do so, the car crossed the double yellow line and collided with Dunn’s pickup truck head-on.
Bartolotta and Brown were pronounced dead at the scene. Dunn was taken to a local hospital, where he died early Sunday morning.
Brown pitched 2 1/3 innings in Saturday’s game and was credited with a win. He allowed three runs on five hits and had one strikeout.
The Panthers (37–5) are scheduled to play Centenary College of Louisiana in a best-of-five series in the regional round of the tournament, beginning Friday.