On the verge of Summer, the much publicised match-up between Doncaster and the current 3 time defending premiers Essendon didn’t disappoint as a contest. The result wasn’t what the home crowd wanted however as the Dragons lost in the 10th inning - after missing a few opportunities early in the game to put a run on the board.
Dragon’s ace Luke Westphal put in another superb outing for his adopted club and was simply dominant. If you haven’t yet seen him pitch then you’re missing out and we highly recommend a viewing! His miserly numbers for the year only got better as he continued to make opposition hitters struggle. He struck out 8 of the first 9 hitters and looked a strong chance to better the club record of 17 strikeouts in one game.
Still getting a feel back for being a starting pitcher Westphal left the game after 7 innings and 97 pitches. He surrendered zero hits and struck out thirteen Essendon hitters in probably one of the best pitching performances by a Dragon ever. He was aided in the field by some solid defence including a blind turn catch by right fielder Callum Lethborg and a great 1-6-3 double play.
Pitching has been the Dragons strong point all year and the relief corp of Matz Shutte and Melbourne Aces squad member Andrew Chesterton continued their strong form on the mound. Shutte continued on Westphals line by striking out 2 in his 2 innings of work and kept the game scoreless heading to the 10th, where Chesterton almost worked his way out of a small jam. A couple of unfortunate misplays would cost the Dragons here with the single run proving to be the difference in the end.
Doncaster out hit Essendon 4-2 but failed to capitalise on Essendon pitcher Luke Abels’ wayward start in the 1st, leaving the bases loaded. Abels battled his way through the game and his high velocity side arm delivery got the job done against the Dragons hitters.
The Dragons face a return match on Wednesday night at Altona at 6:30pm in what promises to be another great game. As for the Westphal show - don’t miss the matinee this Saturday afternoon at 3.30pm against Geelong at Deep Creek in Doncaster.
- Lachlan Craven