DOVER — Garrett Lawson reached second base, where he turned toward the Dover High dugout and home stands.
The Dover senior raised his arm above his head a few times — the universal sign to make some more noise.
Lawson made sure Dover’s first game at its new baseball stadium was a happy and loud one, resulting in a 3-1 victory over Polytech High in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division contest Wednesday afternoon.
Lawson drove in the go-ahead run with an opposite field double that brought home two runs during the bottom of the fifth inning to overcome an early 1-0 deficit. The Senators remained unbeaten, improving to 4-0.
“We went the whole game with the mentality that we were down and we had to get back on top,” Lawson said. “We did that. It was a good day.”
Lawson had an even better day statistically on the mound, striking out 11 and holding the Polytech offense to just two hits over six innings of work.
For a player who struggled with an injury last season, Tuesday was a sign Lawson is back to his normal self.
“Coming back from last year to this year is just a complete transformation,” he said. “My arm feels better. I don’t have any pain anymore.”
“No one was more frustrated than he was last year,” said Dover coach Dave Gordon. “He’s a hard worker and he got his body right in the offseason, took care of his arm better and changed his routine up. It’s worked out for him.”
Triston Harris started the rally in the home half of the fifth when he worked his way on to lead off the frame. Harris soon found himself on third base after he stole second and advanced to third on a groundout.
Tevin Thomas walked to bring up Lawson with runners on the corners and one out. Lawson drove a sinking liner to the gap in left-center field, giving Thomas time to sprint home with the go-ahead run behind Harris.
Lawson has been on varsity as part of the pitching rotation since his sophomore year, but didn’t start to get at-bats until he was a junior due to how deep Dover was. This year, with the Senators trying to replace 12 seniors from a season ago, Lawson is now the No. 3 hitter.
“He’s swung the bat pretty well to start this season,” Gordon said. “I wish I could have started him as a sophomore, but I had a pretty good team that year too. He bid his time and he got himself ready. He’s just a strong kid with a nice swing on him.”
Harris added a run-scoring single in the bottom of the sixth to give Dover an insurance run. Jordan Hutchins worked a scoreless seventh for the save, producing two flyouts to right and a popout to second to end the game.
Polytech received a strong starting performance from Joey Haas who struck out six and kept Dover off the scoreboard before he was lifted from the game due to pitch count restrictions.
“I thought Joey Haas was just as good as Garrett,” Gordon said. “Joey Haas is pretty tough for a young kid and Garrett did a great job on the mound. I’m pretty sure we might see Polytech again later this season. We’ll see about that.”
Dover had a small ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new field. Dover moved into its new high school a year ago, but still played at its old baseball diamond last season as it waited for construction to be completed.
Gordon said he’s glad to have the experience behind him, especially since it was a successful one.
“Honestly it was a little nerve-wracking,” Gordon said. “I’ve got to worry about getting the field ready, the ribbon cutting and my dad doing the announcing so I’ve got to handle him. There’s a lot of elements we weren’t used to but I thought we settled in and Garrett did a great job of keeping us in the game.”
The Senators host Laurel today at 3:30 in their final game of spring break. Dover has won three contests over break, sweeping a doubleheader in Maryland this past Saturday before Tuesday’s victory.
“Spring break is a hard week to play,” Gordon said. “Kids disappear, they show up late and are like, ‘Oh, I’ve got to go to Disney World’ or something. These kids canceled all their vacations. They bought into Dover High over spring break. The goal was to to go 4-0 over spring break and we’re almost there.”