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Dodd delivers repeated strikes and one-hit gem in Tigers' 3-0 blanking of Branson


BRANSON — In a sense, Brady Dodd received the ultimate test Tuesday.

The Ozark senior right-handed pitcher admittedly has been guilty in the past of overthrowing in order to try to hike his velocity. To that end, the scoreboard at Branson is unique in that includes a reading following each pitch of how many miles per hour the ball was traveling.

"I saw that, but wasn't paying attention to it,” Dodd said.

With Dodd’s mind on throwing strikes and not the radar gun, he fired a one-hitter in Ozark’s 3-0 COC triumph against the Pirates.

Dodd struck out six and walked two. He was in such command that he entered the seventh inning with a pitch-count of 67 and finished with 85.

Early last season, his pitch-count was reaching the 60s by the third inning.

"I was getting out of games early.,” Dodd said. “I had done some off-season training where I was trying to throw harder and get stronger. But it threw me off. Throwing slightly harder and not throwing strikes isn't what I want to do. I figured I needed to simplify things to throw more strikes. I stopped trying to throw harder.”

“That's smart, it shows maturity on his part,” coach Justin Sundlie said. “The difference between throwing 83 miles per hour and 85 or 87 isn't much of a difference to a hitter.”

Dodd overwhelmed Branson with a fast ball in the low 80s and a curve ball in the mid 60s.

“I let them hit it and let the guys behind me do all the work,” he said.

“He had multiple pitches working. He was pounding the zone and believing in his defense,” Sundlie said.

Ozark played error-free defense.

Dodd, who improved his W-L record to 3-1, flirted with a no-hitter. The Pirates’ lone hit was a one-out double in the fourth inning.

“It would be cool to throw (a no-hitter), but it's not necessarily one of my goals,” he said. “I really wasn't paying attention to it. I was focused on the game and throwing strikes.”

Ozark plated two runs in the third and one in the seventh.

Hudson Roberts drove in Alex Nimmo with the first run with a sacrifice fly to left field. 

“In that situation, I knew my team was counting on me to get that first run in,” Roberts said. “After I got down 0-2 (in the count), I was in protect mode and clutched up for my team because I knew they needed me.”

Later in the third with two outs, Gage Depee worked his way to a 3-1 count and ripped a fast ball to right field to drive in Dodd with the second run.

"Coach always tells us to be aggressive, no matter what the count is,” Depee said. “With runners on, you always want to be aggressive — look to hit, not to look to walk. So, I was looking to hit. I was swinging.”

“Swing the bat,” Sundlie said. “With nobody on and two outs, maybe you're a little more selective. But you hate to pull the reins on that kid. Gage is strong and athletic. You want him to go swing the bat. When he knows he has the freedom to do that, it shows we have confidence in him.”

Depee received a signal from teammate Brock Sundlie, who was at second base, that a fast ball was coming.

“Brock had their signs when he was at second,” Depee said. “When you know what they're throwing, you know what you're going to get.”

The Tigers added a run in the seventh, with Nimmo scoring on a Branson error.

Depee, Nimmo, Brady Dodd and Brock Dodd accounted for Ozark's five hits. Brock Dodd was 2-for-3.

Tuesday’s game was the first of six games this week for Ozark (8-7 overall and 2-1 in the COC). The Tigers are due to play 18 games over a 24-day stretch that started March 30.

“We love the grind," Depee said.