College baseball players die in car crash hours after winning conference title

Two college baseball players died in a horrific head-on collision on a Georgia road Saturday hours after their team won the conference title.

LaGrange College freshman baseball pitchers Stephen Bartolotta, 18, and Jacob Brown, 19, were killed in the crash that happened on Roanoke Road in LaGrange around 9:15 p.m., according to Georgia State Patrol.

Brown, who was on the mound for Saturday’s game, was behind the wheel when he tried to pass a vehicle in front of him crossing the double yellow line but ended up hitting a van heading in the opposite direction, said the police.

The driver of the van, Rico Dunn, 24, also died in the wreckage.

Brown and Bartolotta were pronounced dead at the scene.

Dunn, who had celebrated his sister’s birthday earlier the same day, according to WSB-TV, was rushed to an area hospital, where he died of his injuries early Sunday morning.

Rico Dunn, the driver of the van the players crashed into, was also killed.

“I am deeply saddened to let you know that we suffered the loss of two students last night,” LaGrange College President Dr. Susanna Baxter said in a statement to the college community on Sunday. “Baseball players Stephen Bartolotta and Jacob Brown were both killed in a tragic car accident.”

Both pitchers and their Division III team, the LaGrange College Panthers, had just beaten North Carolina Wesleyan for their fifth consecutive USA South Tournament title. With the victory, the Panthers secured the automatic offer at the upcoming NCAA Division III National Tournament.

“Coming on the heels of the team’s win at the conference championship yesterday, this news hits our baseball players especially hard,” Baxter said. “There are just no words.”

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