America's Newspapers
Paper: Dayton Daily News (OH)
Title: BUTLER'S BIG BATS GET BACK AT IT TODAY - * The 18-game winning streak of the Aviators is on the line at 5:30 p.m. in Amelia.
Date: May 24, 1999

Mother Nature silenced the bats of southwest Ohio's hottest baseball team Saturday. Riding an 18-game winning streak, Vandalia Butler will have to wait until today to play.

The Division I district championship game between Butler (22-4) and Lakota West (15-14) was rained out and will be played at 5:30 p.m. at the Midland Complex in Amelia. Carroll (22-4) will play Oxford Talawanda (11-15) in the other Division I district title game at 3 p.m.

"I hope we get the game in Monday because if not it will put a strain on the pitching staff of the team that advances to the regionals Friday," said Aviators coach Trent Dues. "The other three districts in our region are done. Those teams will be well-rested with almost an unfair advantage. That's why it would have been nice to play today."

The winner of the Butler-Lakota West game will play Dublin Coffman (20-10) at Indian Lake High School in Lewiston. Cincinnati Moeller awaits the Carroll-Talawanda winner.

The Aviators' ace Adam Kirkendall has been outstanding this season with a 7-0 record, a 2.32 earned-run average and 87 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings. The two-time Greater Miami Valley Conference Player of the Year two-hit Beavercreek in his last outing 10 days ago.

The senior left-hander is backed by an explosive offense that boasts a .365 team batting average. The Aviators' lineup struck fear in the hearts of many opposing pitchers: Chris Abshear (.490 and school-record 41 runs), Adam Mullins (.458 and a .600 on-base percentage), sophomore designated-hitter Brandon Godzik (.450), Kirkendall (.404 and a school-record 42 RBIs), Steve Bell (.492), and Jerrod Fraley (.413). Others to watch are Nick Ferralli and catcher Adam Cox.

"They have set almost all of our single-season team offensive records," said Dues, who has guided the Aviators to ninth place in the state coaches poll and their fourth straight GMVC crown. "One through nine, this has been my best lineup. In years past one player stuck out (Georgia Tech pitcher Cory Vance in 1996 and '97). Now we have a bunch. It's a dilemma putting together a lineup because we have a lot of quality hitters. But it's a nice dilemma to have."

Joining Kirkendall on the pitching corps is Wright State signee Steve King, the team's No. 2 starter. The Aviators will have to guard against overlooking Lakota West, which finished sixth in the Greater Miami Conference. The Firebirds, who started the season at 1-5, are calling themselves the tournament's version of "Rocky". The unlikely district finalist scored 22 runs in wins over St. Xavier and Lakota East.

Carroll hopes to extend its historic season. The upstart Patriots are the winningest baseball team in the school's history (22-4) and the first to win the Mid-Miami League title (13-3, tied with Franklin). Junior southpaw Matt Ryan, the area's ERA leader at 0.65, owns a 5-0 record and has been a catalyst along with Ohio State-bound pitcher Jason Bullens (.513), first baseman Robby Todd (.446, 7 HRs, and 33 RBIs) and catcher Scott Mader (.400, 23 RBIs).

"The rainout helped us because it allows Jason two more days of rest," said Carroll coach Mike Sheets who said Bullens has been bothered by arm soreness. "Matt will start. Jason has become a valuable infielder for us."

The game has the makings of a scoring fest. The two teams played a doubleheader May 1 with Carroll winning both games, 17-11 and 14-7. Talawanda recorded a stunning win over nationally ranked Hamilton and Northwest en route to the district tournament.

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* CONTACT Ron Jackson at (513) 743-5308 or e-mail him at ron_jackson@coxohio.com

Copyright, 1999, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.

Author: Ron Jackson DAYTON DAILY NEWS
Section: SPORTS
Page: 3D
Copyright, 1999, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.