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Healthy Dodrill pitches St. Albans past GW

ST. ALBANS, W.Va. -- It wasn't Joey Dodrill's first game of the season, and not even his first time on the mound this year. But in a way, it was like starting over, and it couldn't have gone much better for the St. Albans senior pitcher.

Dodrill fired a five-inning one-hitter with six strikeouts and two walks Thursday night as St. Albans blanked visiting George Washington 10-0 at Loftis Field. Also one of the hitting stars for the Red Dragons (13-5), Dodrill went 3 for 4 with a double and three RBIs.

It marked the first start of the season for Dodrill, one of the team's top pitchers who missed the first four games and has been limited to just six prior innings - all in relief - because of a strained shoulder on his right arm.

"There weren't really any nerves,'' said Dodrill, who allowed only an infield single to Tanner Sorrells in the second inning. "I really just wanted to get out there and do what I always do, get back in a rhythm. It felt great - five innings, seven innings, it didn't matter.''

George Washington (12-8) entered the game averaging 71/2 runs and nine hits and had only been shut out once previously this season. But the Patriots got only four runners aboard against Dodrill and he picked one of them off and induced a double-play grounder to wipe out another.

"We've just kind of been bringing him along slow,'' said SA coach Rick Whitman. "I asked him Monday if he felt like he was ready for a start, and he said yes. We've been building his pitch count up, and he threw the ball well tonight.''

Dodrill was also lethal at the plate, going 3 for 4 with a double and driving in three runs to spark a 14-hit attack for St. Albans. Phoenix Shrewsbury also had three hits.

"He helps our lineup a lot with his bat,'' Whitman said of Dodrill, "and obviously with his pitching. He's good defensively at first base. He missed the first four games [as the team went 1-3] and we've only lost twice since he's come back. He's a three-year starter and any time you take a three-year starter out of your lineup, it's going to have an effect, so getting him back has been big.''

Dodrill went 5-2 last year with 49 strikeouts in 401/3 innings and was primed for a big senior season before his shoulder ailment.

"All through winter in the gym working out,'' Dodrill said, "it was always, 'This is going to be my season. This is going to be the year I've always looked forward to since I was little.' Coming back is a little different halfway through the season to have my first start. But there wasn't really anything that changed, just getting back to what I always do.''

Besides getting Dodrill back on the mound as a starter, the win could prove doubly valuable for SA, which is chasing one of the top four spots in the Mountain State Athletic Conference standings in order to qualify for the championship tournament. The cutoff date for league games is April 27, and the tourney starts April 29.

"We've preached to the guys that we've got three conference games left,'' Whitman said, "and if we want to play in the final four, we have to win these conference games. The kids came ready to play. They were up and the guys who weren't playing were up, which kind of blended over into the guys who were playing. We got on them early and finally put a team away.''

Josh Burks and Austin Harless each donated a pair of hits for St. Albans and Bobby Grishaber had a two-run single. It represented just SA's third win of the season against a team with a current winning record, and just the second such win versus West Virginia teams, joining a victory over Parkersburg South.

Several St. Albans players also seemed especially pleased that they got a little payback for losing at George Washington 10-6 last year.

"That's been on my mind all week,'' Dodrill said. "That was a tough game. It really hasn't gone away since then. I think I made my point.''

GW coach Chad Campbell, meanwhile, didn't like what he saw from his team in pregame warmups or during the game.

"I'll tell you exactly what it was,'' Campbell said. '[St. Albans] came ready to play and we didn't come ready to play. We showed no heart. We didn't compete. We did everything you can do wrong in a baseball game. They're good, and when you do those things about that kind of team, you're going to get whipped.

"Our bunch here, sometimes they come ready to play and they're good, and we're going to win some games. Some games when they show up at the field, you can see it in their eyes. They're not ready to play and we're going to lose games on those days. Until they get it in their minds that you have to come to the field ready to play the game, we're going to stay right around .500 or above. We have to get some leadership. We have to get some heart. We have to compete every day.''

Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickryan@wvgazette.com.


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