The Dover High School baseball team opened its season with a tough loss to Indian River, 3-2, March 23, after an error cost the Senators a late-game lead.


 

If the Dover High School baseball team’s season opener is any indication of how its 2009 campaign will be, then the Senators better be ready to hear roller coaster analogies all season long.

Hosting Indian River High School (1-0) for opening day, Dover battled back from a slow start only to blow a lead late on a costly error that led to the 3-2 loss March 23.

After battling back from a 1-0 deficit and struggling mightily to get hits, the Senators (0-1) put together a rally in the bottom of the fifth inning.

It started with a leadoff double by junior centerfielder Eric Sumlin, followed by RBI singles from senior shortstop Dan Gatto and junior catcher Alex Niezgoda that put Dover ahead 2-1.

The momentum was short-lived, however, when after junior pitcher Bobby Brown got the first two Indian batters out in the top of the sixth inning, the wheels fell off for the Senators.

The next two batters reached safely before a routine groundball hit to Gatto was mishandled and tossed into right field, a mistake that led to two IR runs and a one-run lead it did not relinquish.

“The positives of a loss like that is that we made some adjustments along the way,” Head Coach Kevin Turner said.

Dover came close to tying the game, when with Gatto on second base in the bottom of the seventh inning, sophomore third baseman Mitchell Moore crushed a ball to center field that required a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch to close things out.

“On a warm day that ball sails probably 15 or 20 feet over that center fielders head,” Turner said.

The season started in a less-than-desirable way for Brown, who surrendered hits to the first three batters of the game which led to an earned run.

He was able to settle in without much damage done after that, though, and finished with six hits, five walks, three runs and six strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.

After such a rough start, Turner said it would’ve been easy for Brown to mail it in, but that he was inspired by his pitcher’s ability to calm down.

“He got in a groove and really settled down,” he said. “We were calling pitches, he was putting the ball on the money, and we started getting into a rhythm.”

Brown said by bailing on his four-seam fastball after the first few innings and resorting to the use of his two-seam pitch, he started feeling more comfortable.

The limited work the team had on the field on the preseason, he added, might also have had something to do with his poor start.

“It could be that I wasn’t as ready for the season as I wanted to be,” Brown said. “It came up in a rush. That’s only the second time I’ve pitched on that mound this year.”

On the flip side, the Dover hitters were kept off balance by Indian River pitcher Cory Showalter, who fanned 11 batters in six innings of work.

Turner said his team needs to learn to make adjustments on the fly to ensure that hitting droughts don’t occur like it did against IR.

UP NEXT
WHO Dover High School (0-1) at Milford High School (0-1)
WHEN 4:15 p.m. Thursday, March 25
WHERE Milford Little League Park

Email Brian Citino at brian.citino@doverpost.com