Steeling the Show: It's Walker's party, and he'll hit two doubles if he wants to

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Both sides pitched well enough to keep overall offensive totals low until late, but both also went deep into counts with batters (the Dash had at least two nine-pitch at-bats and one 10-pitch at-bat), made many pickoff attempts, and suffered from defensive miscues to drag the first five innings out for over two hours. Zach Lewis exited after throwing 91 pitches, 55 of those for strikes; his final line was 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, and 1 PO, and the bullpen was able to hold it down for a 4-1 Dash victory over the Lynchburg Hillcats.

Lewis has played a swing role this season, switching between the pen and starting as the schedule requires. Since June 22, he’s been exclusively a starter, a span of seven games (including what I believe to be the only complete game thrown by a Dash pitcher this season, a rain-shortened doubleheader win). It’s been a much more difficult season for Lewis when he’s starting than when he’s relieving, as is true for most pitchers, so it was good to see some dominance today.

Steven Kwan had the first Hillcats hit of the day, a single to lead off the third inning against Lewis. No Lynchburg runs would score until the fourth, when a two-out walk followed by a two-out single turned into a two-out runners on the corners situation, culminating in a two-out RBI single to tie the game at one. Lewis had one more inning in him, ending with a pickoff. He allowed at least one baserunner in every frame. Again — deep counts and pickoff attempts, but not a whole lot of runs.

The Dash were equally stymied by Hillcats starter Cody Morris and then Hillcats reliever Hector Hernández, and by equally stymied, I mean they went deep in counts and reached base but also didn’t score a lot. They jumped out to a good start in the first, when Mitch Roman drew a one-out walk and brand-new 23-year-old Steele Walker hit his 17th double of the season on his own dang birthday to drive him in. Walker also doubled in the third, his 18th. He also singled in the fifth, because he is good at baseball, but was picked off/caught stealing immediately afterwards because baseball is very hard to play. He also hit a home run in the seventh, absolutely walloped one, but it will not show up in any box score because the umpire called it foul, and then he struck out.

They were able to break the 1-1 tie early in the sixth inning, when Craig Dedelow and Zach Remillard singled to open the frame. A wild pitch by Hernández advanced Dedelow to third, which was good timing, because then Jameson Fisher was able to drive him in with a sacrifice fly, breaking the tie and putting the Dash up 2-1. They then doubled their run total in the seventh, Johan Cruz leading off with a walk and JJ Muno tripling him in with the next at-bat (Muno’s sixth triple this season, putting him one behind Dedelow for the team lead). Roman’s sacrifice fly then brought him in.

Will Kincanon came on in relief with one out in the eighth, throwing mid-90s, and gave up three singles (two of the infield variety, one a regular old ground ball to left), but wriggled out of it without giving up a run. He had much less trouble in the ninth, retiring the Hillcats in order to close out the 4-1 victory. Kincanon has drastically cut down on his walks lately, and has only issued one free pass in 12 innings all month. His ERA currently sits at 1.88.

Winston-Salem returns July 31 at 11 am with Jorgan Cavanerio on the mound, and I will return to the Dash on Thursday, August 1, at 7 pm for Jonathan Stiever’s next start.

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