DIXON – Hits and runs have been hard to come by of late for the Dixon baseball team. The wins have not been hard to come by though, as the pitching staff has helped keep the Dukes in the Big Northern title hunt.
Such was the case again Thursday afternoon, as Jack Doane and Brock Burgess combined for a four-hit shutout in a 1-0 win over Genoa-Kingston. John Oldman’s bloop single to left with two outs in the bottom of the seventh brought home Tucker Cole to win it.
Cogs starting pitcher Nick Gargani got Ethan Apple to ground out to second base for out No. 2 in the seventh on his 104th pitch, allowing him to finish his outing with Cole. He walked the Dixon shortstop on four straight balls. Cole, who had been caught stealing in the first inning, then stole second on G-K reliever Treysen Long’s first pitch.
“I didn’t get too good of a jump when I got thrown out,” Cole said. “[Coach Jason] Burgess and I talked at third [when they switched pitchers]. After we saw how hard he was throwing, he said to take second on the first pitch.”
On the very next pitch, Oldman fisted a fastball in on his hands into left, as Cole raced around third and scored without a throw. The lone hit on the day for Oldman wasn’t the prettiest, but a solid approach and a timely hit was all the Dukes needed.
“I just kind of had to push it out there and try to get something in play to get him [Cole] in to score,” Oldman said. “We couldn’t get anything done, so I knew I had to get something done.”
“All we were trying to do was manufacture a run,” coach Burgess said.
“We knew first pitch we were stealing. John came through with a good at-bat with a tight pitch on the inner half that he fought off,” Burgess went on. “I was very proud of the kids’ perseverance.”
Doane went just five innings for Dixon (11-4, 8-4 BNC), striking out four and walking four in 94 pitches. It wasn’t the most efficient outing for the senior southpaw, but he did bear down when he needed to. Genoa-Kingston went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position against Doane.
“He just kept competing,” coach Burgess said of Doane. “He didn’t quit or give up. He kept battling back to keep the ball around the strike zone.”
Though Doane could have gone another inning, coach Burgess elected to go to his bullpen in the form of his son. Brock Burgess needed just six pitches to retire the Cogs in order in the sixth, and despite allowing a one-out single in the seventh, got a groundout and a strikeout to give the Dukes a chance to walk it off.
“I figured we’d get a fresh arm in there,” coach Burgess said. “The last time he threw was against Mendota, and he struggled. He looked totally different today in pounding the zone and keeping them off-balance with the off-speed.”
Dixon was just 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position, as it left seven runners on base. G-K’s Gargani struck out eight Dixon hitters in 6 2/3, but his final batter proved costly in the form of Cole. Still, Gargani kept the Dukes off the scoreboard with precision pitching.
“We were way off-balance because we had been seeing kids who threw a little harder,” coach Burgess said. “We didn’t execute when we needed to. I had a couple things on that didn’t work because some guys didn’t know what they were doing. It was frustrating.”
The Cogs fell to 3-12 overall and 2-7 in Big Northern play with the loss, but still felt good about themselves by pushing a conference contender to the brink. A young team that only starts two seniors, G-K fell victim to its youth in the end.
“We’re a young team, so we’re still learning to do things like hit with runners in scoring position,” Genoa-Kingston coach Roger Butler said. “The Big Northern competition is fierce. I’m very happy and proud of the boys. They fought.”
Dixon 1, Genoa-Kingston 0
Star of the game: John Oldman, Dixon, walk-off RBI single
Key performers: Tucker Cole, Dixon, 1-for-2, SB, run; Jack Doane, Dixon, 5 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 4 SO; Brock Burgess, Dixon, 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 SO; Nick Gargani, G-K, 6 2/3 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 8 SO
Up next: Crossroads Christian at Dixon (DH), 10 a.m. Saturday