The university mourns baseball players who died in an accident after winning the championship

A Georgia university mourns the sudden death of two student athletes who recently helped the school win the championship.

Stephen Bartolotta and Jacob Brown, freshman pitchers at LaGrange University, were killed in a car crash Saturday, just hours after their team, the Panthers, won the conference championship. According to 11 Alive News, the North Carolina team defeated Wesleyan to win their way to the NCAA Division III national championship.

The pair had been celebrating with the rest of the team before the crash happened.

The Georgia State Patrol responded to the incident at approximately 9:15 p.m. local time and determined that three vehicles were involved in the accident. In addition to Bartolotta and Brown, the Troup County coroner confirmed one other death caused by the crash, that of 24-year-old Rico Dunn. Brown and Bartolotta were pronounced dead at the scene.

“Following the team’s conference championship win yesterday, this news hits our baseball players especially hard,” wrote Susanna Baxter, president of LaGrange College, in a statement to the campus community. “There are just no words… We will get through this together as a campus family with God as our strength. Please support one another as the caring community I know we are.”

great student athletes dead
Two LaGrange College baseball students died in a three-car accident Saturday night. Above, a representative shot of police tape near a car wreck scene.
John Lamparski/Getty Images

The school held a Sunday night gathering hosted by the college chaplain and with trained staff on hand to help students process their feelings and cope with the situation.

“I knew them best from the baseball field and they were quite talented,” Baxter said at the gathering, according to 11 Alive. “But our students spoke about the learning with them, the partnership, the commitment, the work ethic they show on the field but also in the classroom.”

In honor of Bartolotta and Brown, two water bottles were placed on the campus baseball diamond where the players would have been positioned during Sunday practice. The rest of the team stayed off the field for the night while mourning their teammates.

According to Baxter, the team has yet to decide whether or not to continue for the remainder of the season following the tragic incident. Next, the team is scheduled to face Centenary College of Louisiana in a best-of-five series starting Friday.

“It’s too early to ask these questions about what they need to do to work toward their healing process,” Baxter said.

news week has reached out to LaGrange College for comment. The university mourns baseball players who died in an accident after winning the championship

Rick Schindler

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