Two LaGrange College baseball players were killed in a car accident in Georgia on Saturday hours after their team won their conference tournament championship.
Stephen Bartolotta, 18, of Palm City, Florida and 19-year-old Jacob Brown from Duluth, Georgia, were among three people killed in the collision in Troup County near Georgia's border with Alabama. Both were freshman pitchers for the Panthers. LaGrange confirmed their deaths on Sunday in a statement from school president Susanna Baxter.
The third victim was 24-year-old Rico Dunn of LaGrange, Atlanta's WSBTV reports. According to a Georgia State Patrol report obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bartolotta was riding in a Honda Accord driven by Brown on Georgia SR 109 around 9:15 p.m. on Saturday. Per the report, Brown attempted to pass another car in a no-passing zone and collided head-on with the GMC Sierra driven by Dunn in the opposite lane of traffic.
Brown and Bartolotta died at the scene. Dunn was taken to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
LaGrange completed a two-game sweep of N.C. Wesleyan earlier Saturday to secure the program's fifth-straight USA South Tournament championship. The win secured a spot in the NCAA Division III tournament, where LaGrange is slated to host Centenary in a best-of-five series starting on Friday. It wasn't clear as of Monday if LaGrange intended to play on in the NCAA tournament.
“Coming on the heels of the team’s conference championship win yesterday, this news hits our baseball players especially hard,” Baxter said, per WSBTV. “There simply are no words.”
Head coach David Kelton posted a tribute to Bartolotta and Brown on Twitter.
Man oh man this one hurt!! Two of the finest young men you could ask for. Jacob Brown & Stephen Bartolotta, you will be deeply missed. We love you and are grateful for the time we had with you. Fly High #48 & #4. Love you👊 pic.twitter.com/81d5ejggQj
— David Kelton (@DavidDkelton) May 15, 2022
Georgia State Patrol told WSBTV that the crash remains under investigation.