A dazzling cameo performance by gun pitcher Lewis Thorpe (pictured below) was not enough to get the Doncaster Dragons a win over Upwey Ferntree Gully at Kings Park on Sunday.
Thorpe, a highly rated Minnesota Twins prospect, looked sharp in his first outing for the Australian summer after taking a break following his debut US season. He struck out eight Tigers in four innings, allowing just one run on back-to-back doubles, and not walking a batter.
But Upwey Ferntree Gully prevailed 6-2, largely due to an impressive four-hit performance by Mitch Ayres and solid pitching by starter Luke Howell and two relievers.
Not for the first time this season, the Dragons paid a heavy price for their inability to take advantage of scoring opportunities, stranding 10 base-runners.
Having been held scoreless for three innings, Doncaster finally got on the board in the fourth. Nic Unland was hit by a pitch, Chris Nicholas doubled to send Unland to third, then Scott Carr grounded out to second to drive in the run.
Two innings later, the Dragons took the lead. Ben Utting doubled, moving to third on Unland's single and scoring on Nicholas's sacrifice fly. But that was the end of the scoring from the Dragons. The Tigers, however, were just getting warmed up, tying the game in the bottom of the sixth before adding two more runs in the seventh and another two in the eighth.
Nicholas and Carr were the pick of the Doncaster hitters, with two each. Utting, Unland, Michael Mazzocato and Andrew Reeves each had one safe hit.
After three consecutive away games, the Dragons return to Deep Creek on Saturday as they take on Blackburn.