DIXON – The full potential of the 2019 Dixon baseball team has yet to be seen, due in large part to a handful of injuries and an internal matter.
On Thursday afternoon, the Dukes caught a glimpse of what they could be at full strength.
Andrew Long made his season debut in triumphant fashion, striking out 18 Genoa-Kingston hitters and allowing just two hits and a walk in a 2-0 victory at Veterans Memorial Field.
Long threw 73 strikes to 28 balls, and caught six Cogs looking for punchouts. The senior right-hander was able to locate his fastball, curveball and changeup, especially in the final six innings.
“I was really anxious, and wasn’t as focused in the first inning,” Long said. “I was just happy to be back out there. But my guys calmed me down. I felt in the second inning that it was better.”
Genoa-Kingston (4-10, 3-4 Big Northern) got a one-out single from Logan Kribs in the first, and had a glimmer of hope in the seventh when Jackson Blank blooped a single to lead off the inning. However, Long slammed the door shut by calmly striking out the side.
Two second-inning errors by the Cogs helped the Dukes get on the board. Isaic Sanchez, who is now healthy after missing a week with a shoulder injury, scored all the way from second on an infield single by Dentrell McGlown.
“He’s been a really big spark for us,” Dixon coach Jason Burgess said of Sanchez. “He had a couple really nice at-bats, and has good legs under him that allows him to run well. He provides that aggressiveness on the bases, and we need that.”
Dixon (9-3, 9-1) scored its other run in the fourth. Oscar Van Sickle scorched a one-out double to right, followed by Sanchez’s single to right.
G-K starter Ben Franson then balked when Owen Rick squared to bunt, bringing in Van Sickle.
Franson, however, was able to strand nine Dixon runners in six innings. He allowed one earned run, seven hits and three walks while striking out four on 90 pitches, and wiggled out of three crucial jams to keep the Cogs close.
Dixon leadoff hitter Payton Lawrence stepped to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded in the fourth, but Franson was able to induce a groundout and limit the Dukes’ damage. He also worked around singles by Joseph Heckert and Tucker Cole in the fifth, and left Sanchez stranded on third in the sixth thanks to a pair of strikeouts.
“I have 100 percent confidence every time Ben takes the hill,” Genoa-Kingston coach Roger Butler said. “He’s a young, headsy baseball player. He definitely kept us in the game.”
Dixon 2, Genoa-Kingston 0
Star of the game: Andrew Long, Dixon, W, 7 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 18 SO, 1 BB, 73 strikes, 28 balls
Key performers: Oscar Van Sickle, Dixon, 2-for-3, 2B, run; Isaic Sanchez, Dixon, 2-for-3, SB, run; Dentrell McGlown, Dixon, 1-for-2, RBI; Ben Franson, Genoa-Kingston, L, 6 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 7 H, 4 SO, 3 BB
Up next: Dixon at Freeport, 11 a.m. Saturday