Barron, Knights' Offense Blow Past Generals
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
May 19, 2014, 20:52
Brian Goodwyn went 3-for-4 from the plate and scored the Knights' second run of the game.
CHESTER — All season long, the Thomas Dale Knights have followed a simple formula which has led to a successful season: feel out the opponent's starting pitcher early, adjust in the middle innings to tack on runs and shutdown the opposing team's offense with a dominating pitching effort.
Yet, Thomas Dale strayed from their usual narrative during Monday evening's affair with the Dinwiddie Generals.
After Tommy Barron struck out two batters while retiring the Generals in order in the top of the 1st, Nathan Eaton stepped into the box in the bottom half of the 1st inning and didn't waste much time getting the Knights' offense started. Eaton eyed a first-pitch fastball over the middle of the plate, cocked his hands back and pulled the bat quickly through the zone, connecting with the pitch and sending it to the right field fence for a lead-off triple.
Then, Brian Goodwyn followed up Eaton's triple with an RBI single of his own to push across the first run of the game. Collin Fleischer's double just one pitch later drove in Goodwyn all the way from first base, setting the tone for the rest of the ballgame.
The Knights would push across seven runs over the first two innings, one run in the 5th and jumped on the back of Barron before handing the ball over to Eaton to record the final three outs of an 8-3 victory.
"One thing that was great about today was Dinwiddie put the ball in play and we had to make a lot plays out there," Thomas Dale manager Chris Marshall said after his team's 12th straight victory. "Hitting wise, we did early what we normally do late, so I think we kind of flip-flopped. But we really ripped it today."
Marshall was not overstating the day the Knights had at the plate either.
While the Knights recorded just three hits over the game's final four innings, there were hard-hit balls all over the field only to be caught by the Generals' outfielders and infielders throughout the contest. However, much of the damage from the Knights came in a two-inning spurt to begin the game.
Thomas Dale scored seven runs on the strength of seven hits during the first two innings while sending 18 batters to the plate during the span. Eaton's lead-off triple, he went 2-for-3 from the plate with three stolen bases, seemed to set the tone for the Knights from the first-pitch as they pounded Generals' starting pitcher Rashaad Stewart.
In fact, following Barron's RBI single in the 2nd inning, Stewart was chased from the game after tossing just 1.2 innings pitched. While Fleischer went 2-for-4 on the game with two doubles and three RBIs — all coming off of Stewart — Goodwyn was a thorn in the Generals' side all evening.
Goodwyn made both Stewart and relief pitcher Jacob Wells work, fouling off tough pitches in every at-bat and picking up three two-strike base-hits while scoring two runs, driving in one and successfully shooting a ball through a hole as Eaton attempted a steal. However, no one hit the ball any better than Corey Johnston.
While Johnston's final stat-line said it was an 0-for-4 day at the plate, he scolded the ball in three of his at-bats with the last one a bullet to the shortstop that the senior could only shake his head about.
"As soon as hit the last one, everyone was just looking at each other laughing," Marshall said of his clean-up hitter's night. "He's such an easy-going kid, so he took it in stride and understood that's baseball."
But baseball always comes down to pitching and while Barron wasn't quite as sharp as he was during his last outing, he earned his third consecutive victory on the mound.
The junior dominated the Generals' lineup through the first three innings, allowing just one hit and keeping them off-balance with an assortment of change-ups, sliders and two-seam fastballs. The late-tailing action on both his fastball and change-up are what made him especially effective with both pitches coming out of the same arm-slot.
Tommy Barron picked up his third consecutive win on the mound with another solid effort.
However, Barron's fastball would flatten out in the middle innings as he surrendered seven hits and three runs over the 4th and 5th innings before rediscovering his arm angle in the 6th. And perhaps that's what made his outing even more impressive than his 8-inning shutout of Prince George.
Barron had everything working for him against the Royals, but he showed he can adjust and find a way to win even without having his best stuff in a 6-inning, nine-hit, one-walk and seven-strikeout effort against Dinwiddie.
"Early in the game his pitch-count was really well and he was being real efficient in recording outs," Marshall said of last year's All-District pitcher. "Those middle couple of innings, he struggled ... but he did what we needed him to do and got the win."
Getting the win is all this Thomas Dale pitching staff has known over the last month of play, giving the Knights the utmost confidence with the conference tournament set to begin next week.