Like frustrated fishermen, the Doncaster Dragons will consider this the one that got away.
Despite dominating for much of the game against Geelong at Deep Creek on Saturday, the Dragons came out on the wrong end of a 5-2 scoreline after an extra inning. A combination of an oddly bouncing ball and some timely Baycats hitting in the ninth and 10th innings conspired to bring the Dragons undone after seemingly having the game in their keeping.
Things started brightly enough when Travis Cutt doubled with one out in the first inning and scored on Ben Utting's double -- the first of three by the skipper for the game.
With Luke Westphal on the mound, that 1-0 lead was almost good enough. Westphal was masterful yet again, allowing just one hit and no walks through five innings, while striking out 10 in another commanding performance.
Seeking insurance runs, the Dragons took until the sixth inning to produce one. Utting led off with his third double of the game and scored on a single by Brendan McDonald to make the lead 2-0.
Relief pitcher Andrew Chesterton kept it that way for two more innings, but the Dragons failed to add to the lead -- and that failure proved costly. Matz Schutte held out the Baycats in the eighth, but ran into trouble in the ninth as a pair of walks both came around to score on a couple of base hits, one a potential game-ending ground ball that took a weird bounce and eluded the infield.
In extra innings the Geelong offence came to life, producing three hits to cash in two walks and two hit batters.
With four errors, it was hardly a stellar day for the Doncaster defence. But a highlight was an outstanding diving catch by Nic Unland at third base, which saved at least one run.
The Dragons will look to end a four-game losing streak when they travel to Sandringham on Sunday.
- John McDonald