DOVER — Garrett Lawson had just thrown a two-hitter and struck out eight.
But all the Dover High senior wanted to do was talk about the defense behind him.
Lawson’s pitching performance, some big defensive plays and a four-run first inning helped the Senators earn a 10-0 six-inning victory over Cape Henlopen in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division baseball contest on Tuesday afternoon.
“This was probably one of the best defensive games I’ve ever been a part of,” Lawson said. “Tevin Thomas and Jordan Hutchins (Dover’s double play combination) were amazing and then Dmitri Floyd (Dover’s catcher), Dmitri did real well today. We really needed this win because this solidifies us against tougher opponents at home.”
It was the first Henlopen Conference loss of the year for Cape Henlopen (6-1 conference, 7-2 overall) and also keeps Dover (7-2, 10-2) alive in the race for the Henlopen North.
Lawson held the Vikings hitless for the first three innings until surrendering a leadoff single to Austin Elliott to start the fourth. But two pitches later, Lawson was out of the inning.
First he induced a grounder to Tevin Thomas at second base, who flipped to shortstop Jordan Hutchins for the force out before Hutchins fired to first for the double play. Then Thomas ranged to his left on the next grounder, making a forehand grab in the hole and tossing to first for another putout.
“Tevin and Jordan are both underrated infielders,” Lawson said. “You’re not going to see many other teams turn a double play that fast. With a second baseman and a shortstop like that, you don’t have a lot to worry about.”
Lawson allowed four other baserunners in the game, but none advanced past second base.
He escaped a jam with two runners on in the second inning with a strikeout before relying on his defense again later. Dmitri Floyd threw out a would-be base stealer at third to end the fifth inning before Hutchins scampered into the outfield to prevent a bloop hit and Lawson struck out the final two hitters to end the sixth.
“All I can say is we believe in this kid 100 percent,” said Dover coach Dave Gordon. “What a great job Garrett did. Unbelievable. Everything clicked today and you saw the Dover High team you’re used to seeing and we won a big conference game.”
Hutchins scored Dover’s first run of the game when he singled, stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on an errant pickoff throw. Lawson then gave himself some more run support with an opposite field double to plate another run.
Thomas tripled to left-center for a RBI before he scored on a single by Tyler Rosello to cap the four-run first. Dover then added five runs in the fifth and Rosello doubled home the final run in the six for the 10-run mercy rule.
Rosello finished with two doubles, four RBIs and went 3-for-4. Hutchins scored twice and went 3-for-4 with a triple, Lawson had two hits and three runs while Jarvis Worthy was 2-for-3 with a RBI.
“You’ve got to give credit to coach (Dan) Bunnion and guys really believing in what we’re teaching in practice,” Gordon said. “When kids come into our program, all they want to do is pull the baseball. Well we’ve got this huge outfield here so we want to use the whole field. To see Tyler Rosello go backside to end the game is a beautiful thing to see because he was one of those kids freshman year who only wanted to hit balls to the bullpen.”
Dover had dropped two of its last three home games (to Smyrna and Sussex Tech) entering Tuesday. Defeating Cape, last year’s state runner up, is something that Gordon helps will not only turn around the Senators’ performance at home, but give them key bonus points for May’s state tournament.
“They’re a great team and they’ll most likely finish with 12 or 13 wins,” Gordon said. “If we got the W, that would be five points for us, so at the end of the day when you add all those points up it puts you in a good position. We wanted to get back into our winning ways here and what a great opponent to beat, it will hopefully give us some good momentum.”