Doncaster’s final game of the season was also its weirdest, with the Dragons coming from 10 runs down to earn a rare win at Blackburn.
The wild 14-13 score reflected the strange nature of the game, as the Dragons had only eight hits but an astonishing 18 walks to register their highest score of 2013-14 and finish the season on a high note.
Much of the unusually high run total can be put down to Blackburn’s decision to spare its highly rated pitchers. With an eye on the finals starting on Tuesday, the Orioles restricted their big guns John Hussey and Adam Bright to one inning each, opening up scoring opportunities late in the game.
And the Dragons took full advantage of those opportunities, scoring a total of 12 runs in the final four innings to complete a remarkable comeback.
After the home team had scored eight runs in the fifth inning, the lopsided 12-2 score looked to have ended any chance Doncaster had of causing an upset. But as Blackburn worked through a succession of pitching changes, using nine pitchers in total, the Dragons chipped away at the deficit.
Ben Utting led off the sixth with one of his five walks for the game. Marcel D’Avoine and Brendan McDonald followed with singles, the Scott Couling drove in two runs with a double. A sacrifice fly by Andrew Reeves and a single by Mitch Ellis meant the Dragons had scored four runs for the inning, and they left the bases loaded when Utting’s deep fly ball, which looked destined for the gap, was caught low down by Blackburn outfielder Ryan Booth.
As productive as that inning was, the eighth was even bigger. Ellis led off with a single, Nic Unland and Utting walked, then Javan Williams had an RBI groundout. Four of the next five batters drew walks, split by another hit by Couling that drove in two runs. A season high six runs for the inning meant the Dragons had tied the game at 13-13.
In the ninth, Couling collected his fifth RBI of the game to drive in Williams, who had reached on a fielder’s choice after Utting’s fifth walk. It was only one run in a high-scoring game, but it proved decisive.
Pitching had not been a feature of the game, but that all changed when Callum Lethborg took the mound in the bottom of the eighth. Lethborg took care of Blackburn in that inning, then iced it in the ninth with three quick outs to earn the win and complete a remarkable Doncaster victory.
While the walks far outnumbered the hits, the Dragons would be well pleased with the production from their batters. Couling led the way with two hits and five RBIs, McDonald had two hits and three RBIs, and D’Avoine and Ellis also collected two hits each.
The result meant little in terms of final ladder positions, but it did mean the Dragons had won their final two games of the season and four of their last five to finish strongly and give hope that they will improve on their 9-16 win-loss record next summer.