Its a cool 150 for Westphal as Dragons drop Rustlers series

The momentum built up in recent weeks evaporated as the Doncaster Dragons lost back-to-back games against the Cheltenham Rustlers.


Entering Saturday's game, the Dragons had not lost since before Christmas, with a draw against high-flying Blackburn their worst recent result.

But the streak ended with a thud at Cheltenham as the Rustlers scored in each of the first four innings on their way to a 7-1 win.

With a strong wind blowing in, the Rustlers adapted to the conditions well, hitting hard grounders and line drives, while the Dragons hit the ball equally as hard but saw some potential extra-base hits turn into flyouts as the wind knocked the ball down.

Ben Utting was the only Doncaster hitter to get more than one hit, going 2 for 4. Michael Mazzocato, Callum Lethborg and Billy Findlay were the only other Dragons to get a base hit, although Nic Unland had some good at-bats and walked three times.

Andrew Chesterton, pitching in relief of Matz Schutte, had another solid outing, throwing three innings and allowing just one run on three hits and two walks.


Aiming to put that disappointment aside and avoid a season sweep, the Dragons returned home for Tuesday night's game. But they got off to a rocky start as ace pitcher Luke Westphal had a rare shaky inning, conceding three runs in the first. 

While Westphal returned to his normal brilliance after that, the damage had been done. The Dragons were unable to peg back the lead and eventually lost 4-2.

Westphal, perhaps making his last start for the Dragons after signing a contract with the Minnesota Twins last week, boosted his already-astonishing strikeout total with another nine in five innings of work.

With only three hits for the game, offensive highlights were hard to find. Utting's two-RBI single in the third inning, which scored Unland and Andrew Reeves, was the potential key moment of the game for the Dragons, but he was left stranded as the next three hitters made outs. 

With only three ganmes left, the Dragons have a chance to regain the momentum when they host Upwey-Ferntree Gully in the annual Sponsors, Life Members and Ladies Day on Saturday.

- John McDonald