It took longer than expected, but at last it seems the Doncaster Dragons’ offensive slumber is over.
Against quality opposition at Blackburn on Sunday, the Dragons scored nine runs on their way to a 9-3 victory.
A week earlier that same offence had piled on 13 runs against Preston, and in an abbreviated midweek game they scored five.
All this from team that was averaging about two runs per game in the first half of the season!
The unfamiliar run support made life easier for starting pitcher Justin Lawrence. Not that he needed much help — Lawrence was commanding on the mound, allowing just four hits and one unearned run in six innings, with five strikeouts.
He was staked to an early lead as the Dragons scored in the first inning. Nic Unland led off with a single and advanced on an error, went to third on a productive groundout by Michael Mazzocato, then scored on Ben Utting’s groundout.
After Blackburn tied it up in the bottom of the first, the teams traded zeroes until the fifth inning, when the Dragons produced an offensive burst that belied their status as the lowest-scoring team in the division.
It started with a double by Marcel D’Avoine, the first of four consecutive hits by the Dragons before recording an out in the fifth inning. Billy Findlay’s single was followed by Scott Carr’s bunt single, which in turn was followed by Callum Lethborg’s RBI single. A sacrifice bunt by Unland set the stage for Mazzocato to drive in two runs with a double down the right field line. An RBI single by Rhys Aldenhoven capped off a five-run inning that gave the Dragons a 6-1 lead halfway through the game.
Not content with that, they scored two more in the seventh when Utting drove in Lethborg and Unland, who had both walked.
Unland’s RBI double in the eighth further extended the lead, although Blackburn pulled a couple back in the bottom of the eighth.
A measure of the Doncaster performance was that every player in the starting lineup reached base at least once, with a total of 10 hits, four walks and a hit by pitch. And it’s not as if the opposition was below par. It was Blackburn starter Jake Tuck’s first loss of the season.
Making a welcome return to the mound, Aldenhoven pitched the last inning, allowing a walk that was quickly made irrelevant by a double play that ended the game.
So, is the improved offensive output for real, or just a flash in the pan? We may find out this weekend when the Dragons take on Cheltenham.