PLYMOUTH — As a final tuneup for the sectional the pitching couldn’t be much better, but there are some questions remaining for Plymouth at the plate as the Pilgrims pulled out a pitchers duel with Knox at Bill Nixon Field Monday night, 1-0.
A battle between Knox’s Davey Johnston and Plymouth’s Joey Dragani ended with the Knox (6-17) defense flinching in the Plymouth sixth and Dragani dealing a one-hit shut out as his final tuneup headed for sectional time.
“Last time out with him at Northridge he felt like we weren’t hitting the ball for him, and I just told him ‘That’s not your job. When you’re out there your job is to pitch, you can’t control that’,” said Plymouth head coach Ryan Wolfe. “I thought tonight he did a great job of keeping us in the ball game matching pitch for pitch with their pitcher, and we got the run he needed and we won the ball game.”
Dragani struck out three and walked just one in a near masterpiece. Johnston wasn’t far behind.
A misplayed fly ball on the Pilgrims first hitter — Justin Drudge — was the only Plymouth (13-15) hit in the game. Plymouth was able to plate the game’s only run when Blake Milliser reached on an error, stole second and — when the ball squirted away from Knox second baseman Nick Singleton — had the presence of mind to sprint to third.
Milliser then scored when Redskin third baseman Sean Martin made a great play but a made a throwing error on Riley Cartwright’s ground ball. That was the game’s offense.
Knox’s Johnston was no less masterful than Dragani, ending the night with a one-hitter, striking out four and not surrendering an earned run.
“That’s a credit to their pitcher,” said Wolfe. “He did a good job of keeping us off balance. He threw the curveball down in on the hands a lot to the righties and away to my two lefties. We weren’t too patient there, especially the second time through the order. I thought we swung at a lot of first pitches and grounded out when we could have seen a few more pitches.”
Even with that, Dragani’s performance coupled with a masterful shutout again on Saturday by Jacob Frantz over Boone Grove, and the Pilgrim pitching appears to be peaking at a key time, headed to sectional play on Wednesday night.
“Back to back shutouts, I’ll take that all day,” said Wolfe. “I wouldn’t mind a few more runs, but I’ll take a zero up there for the other team all day every time. I think they both (Frantz and Dragani) just stayed around the plate, and if those two guys can do that and Bailey (Clark) and Brayden (Davidson) can step up and give us a couple of innings when we need it we feel pretty okay where we are pitching-wise and defensively.”
Wednesday night sectional action starts at Bill Nixon Field with the Pilgrims in game two against John Glenn. Start time is 7 p.m.
• PLYMOUTH 1, KNOX 0
Knox: 000 000 0 — 0 1 6
Plymouth: 000 001 x — 1 1 2
Davey Johnston (L 2-5) and Julian Williams; Joe Dragani (W 3-2) and Elijah Nixon.