Sharing the workload proved the key to success as the Doncaster Dragons scored a comprehensive win over the Williamstown Wolves at Deep Creek on Saturday.
The 10-1 result was Doncaster's third win in a row and continued the recent run of breakout offensive performances after a slow start to the season.
Having scored only four runs in the first four games, the Dragons have racked up six, five and 10 runs in their past three. Encouragingly, the hits were spread throughout the line-up. Every Dragon hitter had at least one base hit. In their eight completed innings, the home team had an amazing 26 base-runners. Ben Utting led the offensive charge with four hits, including a double and a triple, and scored four runs. Andrew Reeves, Brendan McDonald and Marcel D'Avoine each had two hits.
As expected, Luke Westphal took the mound and was his usual dominant self. In five innings, Westphal allowed just one hit and no walks, striking out nine in yet another outstanding performance. Andrew Chesterton, pitching on two days' rest after an impressive outing as a starter on Wednesday night, threw three innings of relief and did exactly what his team needed, not allowing Williamstown to get back into the game. The only run Chesterton conceded was a towering solo homer by the Wolves' best hitter, Andrew Russell.
Any chance Williamstown had of mounting an unlikely late comeback was snuffed out by Callum Lethborg, who made quick work of the ninth inning, striking out two.
The Dragons went to work early in this game. Back-to-back walks by Jarrod McQuiggan and D'Avoine set the table for Utting to get his first hit of the day, and Billy Findlay drove in a run with a base hit. An infield error by the Wolves led to another run, and after one inning the home team led 3-0.
The second inning started in bizarre fashion as three of the first four Doncaster batters - Lethborg, Dennis Ward and D'Avoine - were hit by pitches. Utting's second hit of the game drove in a run to pad the lead to 4-0. The Dragons added two more runs in the fourth inning thanks to a lead-off double by D'Avoine and a two-out double by McDonald, plus a single by Andrew Reeves. The game looked safe at that stage, but the Dragons kept the scoreboard ticking over. Utting tripled in the sixth inning, then scored the easy way as a balk was called.
Russell's homer in the seventh pulled a run back, but any doubts about the outcome evaporated in the eighth inning. A double by Utting, a walk to McDonald and a double by Michael Mazzocato, plus a wild pitch, added up to three more runs for the Dragons.
The win takes Doncaster over the .500 mark fort he first time this season at 4-3. To improve on that record, they will have to overcome Preston (5-1) at LaTrobe University on Tuesday at 7pm.
- John McDonald