WILMINGTON — The baseball field at Frawley Stadium is typically the scene for nine inning games as it is home to the Wilmington Blue Rocks.
Dover High and Milford High decided to give the Frawley crowd 12 on Saturday.
Aven Purnell’s bases loaded walk capped a marathon game as the Senators edged the Buccaneers 4-3 in 12 innings in a Henlopen Conference showdown. The contest pitted the first place team in the Henlopen North (Dover) against the first place team in the South (Milford).
Dover moved to 7-1 overall while Milford dropped to 6-4.
“Milford is back,” said Dover coach Dave Gordon. “I know they were down last year but they’re back. Teams better get ready for them. They played great outfield defense and pitched well. I just feel like we got lucky in the end there. The ball was up in the zone, that’s a tough call to make but the umpire has got to do his job.”
Purnell worked the count to 3-1 with two outs and three men on. He took a strike to get the count to 3-2 and fouled a pitch back to the screen with the runners in motion.
The next pitch was high and inside letting Kendall Small trot home with the winning run. The Dover dugout stormed the field to greet Small before racing down to first base to hug Purnell.
“I had to settle in and find a way to get on base,” Purnell said. “The whole team wanted this win and I had to get it for them. It’s the greatest feeling ever. Baseball is the greatest game ever.”
Small had doubled off the wall in right before he advanced to third on a wild pitch with one out.
“I knew had to get on base somehow,” Small said. “I was trying to find a hole and I ended up getting a hold of one.”
Dover had plenty of chances to win it in the later innings, but Milford made one great defensive play after another to keep the Senators off the scoreboard.
There was the bottom of the sixth when Cole Davis made a sliding catch in right with two outs as the go-ahead run was on its way home. Then in the bottom of the seventh Aaron Jenkins lined a sinking liner to center with a runner of third but Bryce Greenly snagged it before it hit the ground.
Milford escaped the eighth with a diving catch by Thomas Saxon and survived a bases loaded jam in the ninth on a leaping catch by Davis.
“It’s frustrating but you can’t lose your cool,” Gordon said. “The game is still tied but if you lose your cool you end up losing the game. It’s a great win for us, we’ve been through a lot of adversity this week but kept our heads together.”
Dustin Reeder threw the first nine innings for Milford. He held Dover to five hits and struck out five.
Jared Rowley entered in the seventh for Dover and ended up pitching the rest of the way. He struck out the last eight batters of the game.
Rowley finished with 12 strikeouts in six innings of work.
“I feel like he’s one of the best pitchers in the conference and he showed it,” Gordon said. “He wasn’t in the starting lineup but I told him to be ready. He was ready and he threw great. We had two pitchers basically throw complete games today.”
Rowley last pitched on Tuesday when he started but was pulled in the third inning of a win against Smyrna.
Rowley didn’t start the game in the field Saturday, so spent most of the mid innings trying to get warm in the bullpen.
“I was ready but it was pretty hard,” Rowley said. “After throwing against Smyrna on Tuesday and not doing well, throwing six innings today felt real good. I was a lot more focused today, battled hard and my pitches were locating really well.”
Small started for Dover and went six innings. He struck out three and induced an inning-ending double play with his final pitch of the game in the sixth.
It’s the second strong start for Small in a row who earned a win last Saturday against Appoqunimink.
“I’m having fun with it,” Small said. “I wasn’t really pitcher until this year. I’m trying to have fun every time I go out there and do whatever I can to help us win.”
Milford took the lead in the top of the ninth on a misplayed grounder with the bases loaded. But Dover answered in the bottom of the inning when Jenkins belted a sacrifice fly to center with the bases loaded.
“That’s Dover baseball,” Purnell said. “If we don’t get it done at one point, we’ll get it done at the next. We’re just going to keep fighting and fighting until that game is over.”
Staff writer Tim Mastro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 741-8224.
Follow @TimMastroDSN on Twitter.