The Dash Claw Back, but Not Enough: Winston drops their second straight in the 10th inning

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Baseball is a very hard game to play and that was apparent throughout Saturday’s Dash game. At the plate, they were no-hit until the fourth inning before turning things on, and on the mound, it was whatever the opposite of a no-hitter is.

Zach Lewis was a solid starter the past two seasons for the AZL Sox and then Kannapolis. He’s spent this entire season with the Dash, largely out of the bullpen but with intermittent starts sprinkled in. Saturday was his sixth start of the season —  his first since May 14 — but 16th overall appearance. Lewis came into today’s game with a 4.89 BB/9 ratio, with 25 walks in 46 innings.

Those walk numbers aren’t going to improve after his outing. It took 65 pitches — 38 of them strikes — to get through three innings, giving up four hits, five runs (four earned), and four walks along the way, striking out just one. He allowed the leadoff batter to reach base in all four innings he appeared in, and was removed after allowing the first five runners to reach in the fourth without recording an out. He also balked once. Kevin Escorcia relieved him, giving up one run in his two innings of relief, and Will Kincanon danced around a dropped third strike among other baserunners to also pitch two scoreless. Luis Ledo’s velocity and command problems are both still present, walking three over an inning and a third, but also giving up no runs.

The Dash started out having a rough day in the field. Lewis wasn’t his sharpest, but he was certainly not helped by Carlos Perez’s throwing error on a pickoff attempt in the fourth, which turned a bases-loaded situation into a runner-on-third-and-two-runs-have-scored situation. Perez also failed to throw out two stealing, one of which was close and one of which was not, and made an off-balance throw to third as a runner advanced on a wild pitch that could have easily been an out, but instead drew Zach Remillard off the bag.

Mitch Roman made an error that didn’t cause damage other than in the pitch count at short; Remillard, Jameson Fisher, and Craig Dedelow also executed sloppy plays that didn’t quite rise to errordom. To their credit, the defense tightened up as play went on, and the team did turn three slick double plays, one to severely limit the damage of that nightmare fourth. Dedelow saved the game (temporarily) with a diving catch in the ninth, and Fisher, delightfully, caught a runner with the hidden ball trick in the 10th.

The Dash have had some trouble this season getting things started offensively before letting things loose, and this game was a microcosm of that phenomenon. Jordan George and Travis Moniot walked back-to-back to give the Dash their first baserunners in the third, with Jameson Fisher also walking pre-any-hit in the fourth. Remillard, of course, supplied the first Dash hit in that same inning, singling Fisher to second. As so often happens, that opened up the floodgates: Dedelow singled in Fisher and advanced to second on the throw. Carlos Perez singled over the head of the shortstop to drive in Remillard, cutting the Hillcats lead to 5-2. George walked, then Moniot came to the plate with the bases loaded for one of his first at-bats at the level.

Moniot drove a ball to right field and could have probably made it a double, but as he rounded first, he hit the ground and clutched his leg. He stayed down for a few minutes and left with trainers, not putting any weight on it. Take a second out of your day to try to imagine the emotional roller coaster: bases loaded, first hit at a new level, two runners score, everything is great and you’re on a path straight to the majors, and something in your ankle or whatever gives and you can’t even walk back to first base. Something out of a nightmare.

Fisher took things into his own hands for the rest of the Dash scoring: in the fifth inning, he doubled in Steele Walker (himself on base via his own double) to make it 6-5, then led off the eighth inning with a prodigious blast to the left field grass to tie it all up. It wasn’t enough, though, as Bennett Sousa gave up a two-run blast in the 10th inning for the loss, final score 8-6.

The Dash will be back at 2 pm on Sunday with Jorgan Cavanerio pitching.

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