It was a night of firsts for the Doncaster Dragons. The first midweek game of the season, the first game for new import Justin Lawrence and, most important of all, the Dragons' first win of the season!
That milestone may have taken a little longer than the Dragons had hoped, after five losses to start the season, but that only served to make it more enjoyable.
And it didn't come easily, despite the apparent comfort of a 5-0 final score.
Not only did the Dragons have to shake off a competitive Springvale outfit, they also had to battle the elements. In gloomy conditions and with a constant threat of rain, the Dragons needed two things: an early lead and 65 minutes of play to qualify for a legal game.
They accomplished the first task early, with a little help from the opposition. Ben Utting hit a two-out single and scored all the way from first when Glenn McColl's single was misplayed by the Springvale right fielder.
When the threatened rain eventually fell, it came down in a torrent, sending the players rushing from the field and leading to plenty of people looking at their watches and noting that the game had been going for a tick over the required 65 minutes. But that soon becamse irrelevant, as the rain cleared and the game resumed after a shorter-than-expected delay.
Doncaster padded the lead in the fourth inning, which began with a single by Brendan McDonald. A two-out double by Billy Findlay and a single by Andrew Reeves gave the home team a handy 3-0 lead.
After five innings Lawrence was removed, having quickly made himself popular with a terrific first outing. He allowed just four hits and two walks, while striking out seven, in a performance that surely provides new optimism among Doncaster players and fans for the rest of the season.
With a new pitcher on the mound, the Springvale players sensed an opportunity for a come-from-behind win. But that new pitcher had other ideas. Allowing just two base runners and no runs in his two innings of relief, Marcel D'Avoine picked up the team's first save of the season with an impressive performance.
To cap off a great night, the Dragons also shone in the field, turning four double plays and making no errors. So, was this the start of better things to come, or was it a one-game wonder? We'll find out on Saturday afternoon, when the Dragons host Sunshine.
- John McDonald