5-run first inning carries Dover by Indian River 7-4 in baseball tourney opener

DAGSBORO — Before Dover High junior Hiram Davis even took the mound on Thursday, the Senators’ right-handed starting pitcher already had a five-run cushion.

The No. 17 Senators used their five-run first inning to cruise to a 7-4 win over No. 16 Indian River in the first round of the DIAA baseball state tournament on Thursday afternoon.

The victory sends Dover to a second-round showdown at No. 1 William Penn (15-2) on Saturday at 1 p.m.

For the Senators, Thursday’s win avenged a 4-1, eight-inning loss to IR in the second game of the season.

“We played IR earlier in the season and we came out strong,” said Davis. “But then we kind of just let up on them. So we already came into the game with the mindset of ‘OK, we’re going to get on them early.’

“Today we just kept our composure and got it done. I just tried to stay cool, just keep throwing strikes and let my ‘D’ work.”

That’s exactly what he and his defense did.

Davis had eight strikeouts in six innings, escaping bases-loaded jams on two separate occasions. Defensively, Dover pulled off two double plays, including a game-ending double play in the bottom of the seventh.

“I thought they came out loose and hungry,” said Dover coach David Gordon. “We just executed. The kids ran the bases well and we put up a big number to start the game off.”

Sophomore Dominic Velazquez and freshman Alec Rodriguez led off the game by drawing back-to-back walks from Indian River starting pitcher J.J. Killen. Two batters later, junior Michael Carrington loaded the bases with a single to centerfield.

Junior Andrew Carney then provided the first bit of run support for Davis as he drove in Velazquez with an RBI single to right field.

Junior Chris Dabney drove in Rodriguez and Carrington on a two-run double to left field. Sophomore Nate Turner continued the opening-inning offensive surge with another two-run double, scoring Carney and Dabney.

In the top of the third, Davis helped his own cause by drilling a lead-off double to centerfield, stealing third base and then scoring on a Turner groundout to extend the lead to 6-0.

The Indians, however, had an answer in the bottom half of the inning. IR cut Dover’s lead in half with a three-run surge off a two-run double from senior Cole Hitch and a sacrifice fly from Grant Argo.

Hitch’s double, which bounced off the outfield wall and was just feet away from being a grand slam, scored Jacob Anderson and Mark Smith.

A crucial Dover insurance run was scored in the top of the fourth when Davis drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 7-3.

Indians’ reliever Chase Hall struck out three of the five batters he faced in the sixth. IR inched closer to a comeback in the bottom half as sophomore Tyler Kramer scored on a passed ball to bring the score to 7-4.

Michael Carrington closed out the game on the mound for Dover after allowing back-to-back singles to begin the seventh. Hall lined out to Dover infielder Sam Courtney, who then doubled J.J. Killen off second base to clinch the tourney win.

“Mike came in and gave up two hits — one was a little blooper — but he settled in and got a line drive and Sam Courtney made a nice play,” said Gordon,

With No. 1 seeded William Penn on tap for Dover Saturday, Gordon hopes to keep his kids focused on the task at hand.

“We’re going to show up to practice tomorrow and have a good, quality practice,” he said. “William Penn is going to be a challenge for us, but we’ve been in these spots before. We’ve made the tournament nine straight times — a lot of these kids have experience in the tournament — so we’re going to go up there, accept the challenge and see what happens.”

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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