DOVER – It had been at least 10 years since the Smyrna baseball team had scored a victory over Dover.
So even on a cold, windy day when neither team scored an earned run or played its best, the Eagles didn’t have many complaints after earning a 3-2 win over the Senators on Tuesday at Dover Field.
“We were trying to manufacture runs,” Smyrna coach Mike Henderson said. “The weather didn’t help. It was a little ridiculous, playing when it’s 37 degrees, but what are you going to do? We’re trying to come up with W’s, and we found a way to do it.”
The fourth-ranked Eagles (4-0, 1-0 Henlopen North) overcame four errors – including three in one inning. Starting pitcher Eric Carrow allowed two hits and struck out eight in five shutout innings. Then reliever John Barkley got through two white-knuckle innings for the save.
“A lot of people see this as a big game. I think it’s a regular game,” Barkley said. “But it’s all adding up, definitely. I think if we continue and get better and better – and we have a lot of stuff to improve – we’re going to be contenders.”
Smyrna took a 1-0 lead in the third when Shawn Dulin walked, moved to second on another walk, scooted to third on a fielder’s choice and scored on an error.
The Senators (5-1, 1-1) were denied the tying run on a controversial call in the fourth. Jordan Hutchins attempted to steal home with the bases loaded and two out. The speedy leadoff man appeared to be safe, but the home-plate umpire ruled otherwise.
“To me, we thought Jordan was definitely in there,” Dover coach Dave Gordon said. “That’s something that we practice. … [The umpire] said he got him. You’ve got to live with it.”
The Eagles boosted their lead to 3-0 in the sixth. Zach Zlock reached on an error, moved to second when Nolan Henderson walked and scored on Dulin’s single – the only RBI hit of the day. Henderson motored to third on Dulin’s hit and scored on an error.
But three Smyrna miscues led to two runs in Dover’s half of the sixth. One of the runs came home when Barkley issued a bases-loaded walk, but two batters later the right-hander left the sacks jammed with a huge strikeout.
“I was just trying to pound the strike zone,” Barkley said. “It’s baseball. The baseball gods are going to make sure there are errors. We had a couple of errors that should have been made, but we recovered from it.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Barkley retired the Senators’ 1-2-3 hitters with two ground balls and a final strikeout.
“Stay out of the inside [of the strike zone],” Barkley said, when asked about his mindset. “Just pound the outside, try to get through it. It worked for us. We made the plays.”
A stiff wind blew in consistently from left field and dropped the wind chill to 34 degrees. Smyrna managed only four hits, while Dover had two.
“It’s cold, man. It’s cold out here,” Gordon said. “I thought both teams battled. I thought Dover and Smyrna are two pretty good baseball teams. I told the guys maybe we’ll get lucky and see them again down the road.”
That could happen only during the state tournament in late May, when it should be much warmer. But on this cold day, the Eagles went home happy.
“There were a lot of plays that could have gone either way,” Henderson said. “We’re just glad to get out of Dover with a win.”
Contact Brad Myers at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ
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