A dazzling pitching performance by Doncaster import Luke Westphal carried the Dragons to their first win of the new season at Waverley on Sunday. Doncaster won 2-0 thanks largely to the efforts of Westphal and three relievers, who combined for a rare shutout.
Showing his full array of pitches, the left-hander dominated from the start, relying mostly on ground balls in the early innings before producing an amazing sequence of strikeouts in his final two innings of work. Westphal allowed just one hit in five innings, striking out 11 and walking none. His stint included the rare feat of striking out four batters in one inning, thanks to an errant throw by debutant catcher Billy Findlay. Apart from that one misplay, Findlay was outstanding behind the plate and with the bat in his first game for his new team. On a day when hits were hard to come by for either team, he collected two. Nic Unland, Ben Utting and Marcel D'Avoine were the other Dragons to hit safely.
Not many games are won at this level by a team that has only five hits, all of them singles. But thanks to the great pitching, that was enough. After Westphal departed, David Miller came on in a high-pressure situation in the sixth inning and performed admirably, allowing just the one hit and two walks but keeping the Wildcats off the scoreboard and preserving the 2-0 advantage.
Andrew Reeves then switched from fist base to the mound, where he allowed two hits but no runs. And Callum Lethborg, who had started at right field, picked up his first save of the season with a tidy ninth inning to ice the win.
The Dragons will be aiming for their second win of the young season when they host a powerful Blackburn outfit at Deep Creek next Saturday.
- John McDonald