BV Summer League, Tuesday 29 November, 2011.
Losing one-run games has become an art-form for the Doncaster Dragons this seasons - and the trend continued against Essendon at Deep Creek on Tuesday night.
So far this season the Dragons have played in five games decided by one run - and have lost them all.
And all of those games have been against teams in the top four, an indication that the Dragons are very close to the powerhouse teams of the competition.
All of which meant very little in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday night's game, as the disappointed Dragons pondered another narrow defeat on an otherwise successful night for the club, with a good crowd on Dollar Dog Night and the presence of key sponsors.
Things started brightly enough, despite the ominous presence of Essendon starting pitcher Greg Wiltshire, a seasoned performer who has been one of the league's top pitchers for many years.
The first two batters, Ben Kernick and Scott Couling, with singled. One out later, Leigh Bertrand walked and Slade Squire followed suit, scoring Couling to put Doncaster on the scoreboard.
An infield error on Daniel McGrath's grounder allowed two more runs to score, giving Doncaster a 3-1 lead after one inning.
Essendon is among the favourites to win the Division One championship this year, and it was never going to be an easy task for Doncaster to maintain the early lead.
Starter Lewis Thorpe pitched into the fourth inning, keeping his team in the game by allowing four runs, on four hits and four walks, with one strikeout.
But after a shaky first inning, Wiltshire regrouped and shut down the Doncaster offence for the next five.
Essendon's powerful offence eventually put the Bombers in front, largely due to a two-run homer by Tristen McDonald.
Brendan McDonald took over on the mound for Doncaster and kept the Bombers largely in check, allowing one unearned run in 3.2 innings, with two hits, three walks and three strikeouts.
There was no relief for Doncaster when Wiltshire finished his six-inning stint. On came major-leaguer Shane Lindsay, who gave up hits to Kernick and Couling and allowed the Dragons to pull back a run. But that only narrowed the margin to that frustrating single run.
The midweek games are over until after the Christmas break. Doncaster 's next assignment is a home game against Upwey-Ferntree Gully on Sunday.