Velazquez, Senators slug past Smyrna 9-5

Dover’s Dominic Velazquez slides into home safe as Smyrna’s catcher Nikolas Dias waits for the ball at Dover on Thursday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — The ball left Dom Velazquez’s bat and the Dover High sophomore sprinted out of the batter’s box thinking double.

Then he looked up. This ball wasn’t coming back.

Velazquez homered and tripled in the later innings to help the Senators earn a 9-5 victory over Smyrna High in Henlopen Conference Northern Division baseball on Thursday afternoon.

Dover’s Michael Carrington is congratulated after he scored a run in the third inning against Smyrna at Dover on Thursday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Velazquez’s homer came in the bottom of the sixth. Just two innings earlier he lined a ball the opposite way into the right-centerfield gap to score two runs and break a 4-4 tie.

Smyrna had tied the game with a four-run top of the fourth. It wasn’t tied for long as Dover answered with four of its own in the bottom half of the inning.

“It’s really big because we’ve been in that situation where we’ve been up but let them creep back into it,” Velazquez said. “We’re always going to fight, no matter what.”

Velazquez put the exclamation mark on the victory in Dover’s final turn at-bat. He pulled a high flyball well beyond the fence in left-center.

It was the first home run of his high school career for the sophomore, who has already committed to play at the University of Delaware.

“He crushed it, wind or no wind, that’s going out,” said Dover coach Dave Gordon. “He’s a strong kid. He was at weightlifting every day this year. I think he’s got a chance to pitch and hit at the next level.”

Dover’s Michael Carrington reaches for a pick off throw against Smyrna’s Brendan Davis at Dover on Thursday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Velazquez wasn’t expecting the ball to clear the fence right off the bat.

“No, I was hustling hard trying to get to second,” he said. “When I saw it go over, I went into a trot. It feels pretty good.”

Velazquez finished the day 3-for-4 with three RBI and scored three times. Freshman Alec Rodriguez also had three hits and drove in a pair.

Rodriguez knocked in Velazquez during the four-run bottom of the fourth with a single up the middle. Andrew Carney plated another run with an RBI-groundout.

Noah Lanouette helped Dover (4-2) build a 4-0 lead earlier in the contest with a two-run double in the third inning.

“It was a hitter’s day,” Gordon said. “The wind was blowing straight out and we probably put some of the best swings on the ball that we had all year. I was happy to see that.”

Smyrna (2-3) did not go quietly. The Eagles rallied behind RBI singles from Andrew Whitlock and Nathen Ridgeway in the top of the fourth to pull within 4-2. Then Whitlock and Ridgeway came around to score on an error on a pop-up to tie the game.

Smyrna’s Eric Carrow pitches against Dover on Thursday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

All four of Smyrna’s runs in the fourth inning came with two outs.

After Dover’s four-run outburst in the bottom half of the inning, Smyrna was able to cut the lead to 8-5 in the sixth. Andrew Unterreiner drove in a run with a single but Dover pitcher Michael Carrington stranded a pair of runners to escape trouble.

Carrington pitched three innings of relief and also struck out the final batter of the game.

Cole Edwards picked up the win despite throwing just four pitches. He came on with two runners on base and was able to record the final out of the top of the fourth before Dover took the lead for good.

The Senators are currently in a stretch where they play four games in a row against Henlopen North teams. They fell 6-4 to Polytech on Tuesday and host Sussex Central Saturday at noon before traveling to Caesar Rodney on Tuesday (4:15 p.m.)

“Anytime you win inside the division it’s huge,” Gordon said. “It’s big. It’s one of the best divisions in the state, a lot of people will tell you it is the best. … You saw a lot of talent on the field today on both sides.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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