If This Game Were the Revolutionary War, There Would Be No America: Dash lose 4-2

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Baseball is always better in front of a packed house, even when it’s losing baseball. The Winston-Salem Dash dropped a close Independence Day game to the Fayetteville Woodpeckers, 4-2, but there were still reasons for celebration.

Jonathan Stiever does many things well, I’m sure, and among these in my experience is not walking guys, not allowing hard contact, and pitching quickly. All three of these Helpful Baseball Skills were on display as he threw his third straight quality start in three Carolina League tries. Stiever’s final line, spoilers, was 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R (all earned), 0 BB, 8 strikeouts. This isn’t a bad line just to look at — no walks! Just four hits! — and it was even better to watch in person.

 

Stiever retired the first seven batters faced before running into trouble at the bottom of the lineup. A two-strike checked-swing attempt by batter Scott Schreiber was apparently deemed to be successful, and inspired by this new life, he poked a duck snort perfectly in between Jameson Fisher at first and Craig Dedelow in right. The next batter, Ruben Castro, worked a full count before reaching out and, on an off-balance swing and off the tip of his bat, nudged a home run into the left field grass. This was Castro’s second professional home run and came in his sixth pro season. Stiever got the next two outs without issue.

In the next inning, the first pitch Stiever threw ended up joining Castro’s dinger in the left field lawn, although this one was absolutely hammered and was gone off the bat, maybe the only really good contact the Woodpeckers were able to get. Stiever gave up a single immediately after, but a double play and a fly ball got him out of the inning, trailing 3-0.

That was all the offense the Woodpeckers could generate against Stiever. In his last two innings, he struck out four and allowed no baserunners. It was a little shocking he gave up any runs at all, the way he was throwing. In general, he was sitting between 93-95 mph but made it up to 96 several times. He aggressively attacked the strike zone and added his seventh no-walk start to his 17 total this year.  In fact, he seemed to be picking up steam the deeper into the game he went, half of his strikeouts coming in those last two innings. Stiever seems to subscribe to the Mark Buehrle school of thought when it comes to time between pitches, and if you blink especially hard, you might miss a couple.

Many times this season have the Dash found themselves stringing together hits and romping through the late innings of a game, but this was not one of those times. They ended up with just six hits total, and a few of them were of the bounce-off-a-player-or-glove variety. Mitch Roman and Dedelow both tallied two, including a double by Roman. Steele Walker hit a double of his own, and a single by Tate Blackman rounds out the hitting. This game was, indeed, walkless on both sides.

The Dash scored both of their runs in the sixth, and it could have been a bigger inning but for some questionable umpiring. Blackman reached on an error, then advanced to second on a wild pitch. He then scored on Roman’s double. Roman stole third, then trotted home on a wild pitch. He would have scored anyway on Walker’s subsequent double; Walker made it to third after Fisher reached on an error. Then, with two outs and runners on the corners, Zach Remillard was called out on strikes, with strike three firmly in the left-handed batter’s box. It’s the minors for umps too.

 

Defensively, Remillard and Fisher teamed up for a GREAT play on a grounder. There was also a ninth-inning Incident involving a throwing error by Roman at second and then some deep miscommunication between several players about a) where the ball was and b) who was going to get the ball while c) someone else covered the plate, and a run scored.

Perhaps no Dash player performed as well in this game as Zach Lewis, who did not appear on the mound but did appear between innings to help his girlfriend beat mascot Bolt in a tug-of-war contest. He pulled her to victory and immediately got down on one knee in front of all 8,000+ to propose. Bolt, ever thoughtful, even brought flowers.

Kade McClure and the Dash will return on Friday at 7 pm. Keep us in your thoughts during this upcoming rainy weekend.

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