By Ryan Decker
CHARLOTTE, NC – Runs were at a premium between the Lenoir Oilers (23-15-1) and Charlotte Crushers (16-18) at Thomas Eaton Field Sunday evening.
Starting pitchers Brad Dzeskewicz and Jacob Barker owned opposing hitters through the first seven innings of play.
The eighth inning was the difference maker, as the Oilers were able to strike for a trio of runs to take a lead late. A pair of relievers held on to keep the shutout in tact for Austin Lynch’s club; a 3-0 win for Lenoir that snapped Charlotte’s two-game winning streak.
Both Barker and Dzeskewicz faced a little trouble in the opening two innings, as both teams hit through all nine hitters in the first two frames.
Starting in the third, though, pitching took control.
Barker retired stretches of eight and seven hitters in a row during portions of the middle innings, while Dzeskewicz held up his end retiring 13 in a row at one point.
It was during that stretch that Dzeskewicz recorded nine of his season-high 10 strikeouts. He sat down multiple Crusher hitters on strikes in four innings and retired at least one hitter via a strikeout in each inning from the second through the seventh.
Barker started the eighth on the mound, but could not record an out.
Each of the three Lenoir hitters he faced reached, loading the bases and knocking him out of the game.
Reliever Anthony Stillwagon induced a groundball down the third-base line off the bat of Bryson Conner, which was gloved by Josh Hollifield. Hollifield, on the run, threw toward home plate trying to get the force out, but the throw sailed high, going to the backstop and allowing two runs to score.
A sacrifice fly by Mattison Pike one batter later drove in another run, giving Lenoir a 3-0 lead.
Dzeskewicz, who was credited with the win, only allowed hitters to reach base during his seven frames of work on the mound. He also recorded four 1-2-3 innings and never faced more than five hitters.
Barker, who was stuck with the loss, was responsible for all three runs. He surrendered six hits and walked four while striking out two.
As a team, offensively, the Crushers mustered just four hits in the game and were shutout for the fourth time this season.
It’s also the fourth time this month Charlotte has been held to two runs or fewer.