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Dukes’ defense, UT bus break down

Busted fundamentals

DIXON – United Township's bus broke down upon its arrival at Veterans Memorial Field.

That was about the only thing that wasn't working for the Panthers in a 6-1 nonconference victory over Dixon on Monday afternoon.

United Township (7-14) received a dominant performance from senior left-hander Connor Gunneman, as well as some timely hitting, and didn't commit an error. It helped turn around what had been a string of frustrating one-run losses in the past few weeks.

"It was nice to get a little bit of a lead and have our ace on the mound and close one out for a change," UT coach Steve Yount said. "It's going to be a nice ride home."

Dixon (8-21), meanwhile, didn't offer much resistance. The Dukes managed just six hits, and were able to dent the scoreboard just once, on a two-out RBI single by Alex Strum in the fifth inning.

Strum (0-3) tossed 5 2/3 innings, allowing six runs, five hits and four walks, with two strikeouts and one hit batsman. Half of the runs he allowed were unearned, as the defense committed five errors behind him.

"I asked the guys what the key number was on the scoreboard, and that number was five," Dixon coach Sam Gallucci said. "When you have five errors and you just give them runs, that's a problem. If it's 3-1, you can compete the whole game, but when it's 6-1, it's tough to come back in an inning or two."

Dixon's chances of mounting a comeback were slim as long as Gunneman (3-5) was on the mound. He allowed just six hits and one walk, while striking out 10. Reliever Bryce Luken then struck out the side in the seventh — around the time a backup bus arrived to haul the team back to East Moline.

"My fastball was working really good," Gunneman said, "and I think my curveball worked occasionally. It would get hitters off-balance, and that would make my fastball look a little faster. I was spotting it up pretty good. I felt pretty good out there."

Zach Harris, the No. 9 hitter in the Panthers' lineup, had the key hit in the game, a two-run single in the top of the fourth to stake UT to a 4-0 lead.

Strum, Cal Jarrett and Dan Pultorak each had two singles for Dixon, which played without its top power threat, senior first baseman Jared Frey. He strained his back lifting weights in PE class on Monday, and is questionable for a flurry of home games the rest of the week, starting on Wednesday against Rock Falls.

Star of the game: Connor Gunneman, United Township, 6 IP, 1 R, 6 H, 10 H, 1 BB

Key performers: Cal Jarrett, Dan Pultorak, Dixon, both 2-for-3; Zach Harris, United Township, 2-for-3, 2 RBI

Up next: Rock Falls at Dixon, 4:30 Wednesday

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