What a way to end the year!
Marcel D'Avoine's walkoff RBI single capped a remarkable rally as the Doncaster Dragons pulled off a win for the ages with a 5-4 result over Melbourne at Deep Creek on Tuesday night. It was a victory that was richly deserved, given that the Dragons had led for much of the game and went into the final inning with a 4-1 lead.
But it was a result that looked highly improbable when the scores were tied in the bottom of the seventh and final inning, and the Dragons had two out and nobody on. Three consecutive base hits later, John King touched home plate just ahead of the throw from the right fielder after D'Avoines's hit, sparking scenes of jubilation among the Doncaster players and fans.
The win was also significant for the huge improvement shown by teenage starting pitcher Matz Schutte, who overcame some early mishaps to produce his longest and strongest outing in Doncaster colours. Through six innings, Schutte allowed just one run before allowing a couple of base runners in the seventh and being replaced by Andrew Chesterton. That one run came in the first inning, after which Schutte put up a succession of zeroes, walking four and striking out four.
It took Doncaster until the third inning to get on the scoreboard. Andrew Reeves led off with a single and moved to third on Ben Utting's single with two outs. D'Avoine then produced the first of his three hits for the night, driving in both runners.
Things looked even better for the home team in the sixth inning, when Ben Utting led off with a double, moved to third on an infield hit by D'Avoine and scored on an RBI fielder's choice by Brendan McDonald. When D'Avoine score on a wild pitch, the Dragons had a 4-1 lead and looked safe.
But the Demons are among the strongest teams in the competition, and it was clear they would not go down without a fight. Three hits and a walk led to three runs, and the damage would have been even worse if not for some terrific relief work by Callum Lethborg, who got three quick outs to keep the score tied.
That set the scene for a dramatic bottom of the seventh, when King and Utting kept the game alive with singles and D'Avoine delivered for the walkoff win.
- John McDonald
Editore Note: What a stunning way to finish off before the 3-week Christmas break. We trust that all of our members and families will have a wonderful Chistmas!