R-MA’s Dutton shuts out SVCA baseball, 7-0
STEPHENS CITY — What started out as a pitchers’ duel between good friends ended up in a career night for one of them.
Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy’s Mike Powell and Randolph-Macon Academy’s Neil Dutton met their sophomore year at a high school basketball game and have been buddies ever since.
The two friends faced each other on the mound when the Patriots hosted the Yellow Jackets in a non-district baseball game at SVCA on Tuesday afternoon.
Though Powell pitched well enough to win, he and the Patriots were no match for Dutton.
Dutton struck out a career-high 15 (topping his previous best of 13) and tossed a three-hit shutout, leading R-MA to an impressive 7-0 victory over the Patriots.
It was SVCA’s second consecutive loss.
“Neil was pretty impressive today, he only threw 90 pitches,” R-MA coach Robert Locklear said. “His last two starts he’s doing alright. He was throwing the ball pretty good today.
“It was a good win for us today after we had a loss yesterday. Anytime you can come back after a loss it really helps you a lot.”
Dutton (3-2) struck out at least two hitters in every inning but the sixth, and he struck out the side twice. He worked all seven innings, allowing just three base runners — all on singles and never more than one in any inning.
“My arm felt really good today,” Dutton said. “I haven’t felt this good all season. I’m happy, we played strong in the field. It was a close game at the start, I know everyone was fearing Mike [Powell]. I just told them to relax and go up there. We eventually scored some runs.”
R-MA (9-5) scored the only run it would need in the top of the first off Powell. Andre Lake led off the game with a walk, stole second and moved to third on a passed ball. Dutton’s RBI groundout gave the Jackets a 1-0 lead. It would be the only earned run R-MA would score off Powell.
SVCA (8-7) got its first base runner of the game when Jacob Heflin led off the second with a single. That’s as far as he would get as Dutton retired the next three batters in order to retire the side.
Dutton helped himself out once again in the third inning. With one out, he reached on an error and then stole second. When nobody covered second to take the throw, Dutton not only moved to third but was able to score, making it 2-0.
For the second inning in the game the Patriots put their leadoff hitter on base in the bottom of the fifth when Samantha Yarnall singled to right. But Dutton struck out the next three hitters to end the inning.
SVCA’s last opportunity came in the bottom half of sixth when Matt Rogers singled with one out, was sacrificed to second by Powell and moved to third on a balk. Rogers was stranded there however when Dutton struck out the next hitter.
Powell worked five innings, allowing three runs (only one was earned) on just two hits. He walked two and struck out nine before giving way to the bullpen because of reaching his pitch count.
R-MA tacked on four runs in the top of the seventh with a lot of help from the Patriots. R-MA only got one hit in the inning but received five walks and a hit batter.
“I knew runs were going to be tough to come by. We wanted to get to him [Dutton] early,” SVCA coach Bobby Wheelock said. “We were a little behind his fastball early on and it was tough for us to come back. Plus he does a good job out there.”
R-MA capitalized on six SVCA errors and seven walks.
Dutton also collected two of R-MA’s three hits, scored once and drove in three runs.
Rogers, Heflin, and Yarnall each had a hit for the Patriots.