Dotson tosses gem as Generals beat Bison

NEW MARKET – Stonewall Jackson High School’s baseball team saw its bats go quiet after erupting early against visiting Buffalo Gap on Tuesday evening, but Generals starting pitcher Nick Dotson stayed consistent throughout.

The junior right-hander was magnificent through 6 1/3 innings against Gap, as he limited the Bison to just two hits and striking out seven while riding early run support to a 7-0 victory in Shenandoah District action at Rebel Park.

Dotson’s outing, which improved the junior’s record to 4-4 this spring, kept the Generals (8-8, 5-6 Shenandoah) within striking distance of the top overall seed in the upcoming Conference 44 tournament with just three regular-season games remaining.

“My slider was really working well tonight. Just very sharp, even sharper than usual,” Dotson said. “… That was kind of my go-to pitch whenever I was in a pinch maybe, or just needed to get an out or needed to deliver a pitch. It’s nice having that luxury because not many people expect it. … It’s a whole lot easier to get outs that way.

“Really I was able to locate well in general. I mean I threw to my spots where I knew it’d be tough for them to hit it, and when they hit the pop flies or ground balls my team made plays. That’s all we had to do.”

Supported with five runs in the bottom of the first inning and two more in the second, Dotson breezed through the Bison (6-10, 3-8) while picking up at least one strikeout in all but the fourth inning. He and fellow junior Tyler Somers, who relieved Dotson with one out in the top of the seventh, combined to face just 22 batters in the victory, one over the minimum.

Dotson, who didn’t walk a batter in the win, exited the game just shy of the 75-pitch threshold after picking up his seventh strikeout to open the seventh inning, keeping the junior eligible to return to the mound Friday against Riverheads.

“Nick’s been pretty good all year,” Generals head coach Mike Lenox said. “I couldn’t have been happier with how he pitched, but I think tonight when he had the slider working everything else is ten times better. I think Nick had a little bit of a break, he hadn’t pitched for about a week and I really, really think that helped him maybe get some stamina back just as the season progressed. But he was throwing almost every pitch for a strike and when you’re doing that it’s a tough night at the plate.”

Dotson helped his own cause in the Generals’ first at-bat of the night, as he lined the second pitch he saw from Bison starter Lucas Wheeler into the gap in right center for a lead off double and scored on Somers’ RBI triple to center one out later for a quick 1-0 lead.

Somers’ triple was the first of three hits in the win for the junior, who also singled twice, scored two runs and stole a base.

“We just stayed focused from the moment we stepped out here,” said Somers, who led Stonewall’s nine-hit attack. “Previously we could be joking around and not really as focused as we were tonight, but the energy feeds throughout the whole lineup too when you’re hitting like that.”

A hit-by-pitch and the first of Gap’s five errors in the game followed Somers’ RBI to load the bases for Stonewall with one out in the first, and Brett Jones drove in a run on a fielder’s choice before senior left fielder Duncan Schroeder snuck an RBI single through the right side of the infield for a 3-0 lead.

Another error on Logan Ritchie’s grounder to short allowed two more runs to score before the Bison finally got out of the inning.

Stonewall extended its lead in the second inning, as Holsinger drove in Somers with a triple on a fly ball to right before scoring on Matt Dove’s grounder to give the Generals a 7-0 lead.

Dotson, Holsinger and Schroeder each had two hits for Stonewall, while five different players were credited with an RBI.

“Hitting breeds hitting,” Lenox said. “That’s been our struggling point those last few games – up to (a win over Stuarts Draft last Wednesday) and this game, we scored six runs in six games. That’s not gonna win you any baseball games. I think we’re a little more competent now at the plate.”

The Generals’ bats cooled off after roughing up Wheeler (three earned runs) for eight hits in the senior’s three innings of work. Bison junior Daniel Landrum held Stonewall hitless over two innings while striking out two, and Seneca Graham surrendered just one hit in a scoreless sixth inning.

Stonewall returns to action Wednesday with a game at East Rockingham and has won back-to-back games after snapping a five-game slide last week against Draft.

“I think it was definitely really important,” Dotson said of building on last week’s win, “because sometimes confidence starts to lack when you’re on a losing streak. When we got back on the winning side of things we regained that confidence in our abilities. We knew what we were capable of. We were playing some good games but … the outcomes hadn’t been favorable. But we started winning and we stopped worrying about all the little things. Just went out there relaxed a little bit, I think that’s probably the biggest thing.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com