America's Newspapers
Paper: Dayton Daily News (OH)
Title: COMEBACK KIDS: AVIATORS, 22-4, SOAR WITH CLUTCH HITTING - Butler to face GWOC rival Wayne at tourney
Date: May 19, 2003

VANDALIA -They are baseball's Houdini act. The Vandalia Butler Aviators have made improbable escapes all season.

The state's No. 5-ranked Division I baseball team has won more than their share of come-from-behind games and for better or worse, it seems to suit them.

"We've quickened coach (Trent) Dues' age and made his hair gray," said shortstop Tyler Koch, smiling. "We don't give up. It's weird, but we almost play better when we're behind."

Dues, a devout Cincinnati Bengals fan, reluctantly calls his club the "Kardiac Kids" after the 1980 Cleveland Browns. He has steered his team to a 22-4 record.

"Now that we're in the tournament, we have to correct that habit quickly," said Dues, who was named the area's D-I Coach of the Year. "You don't want to fall behind against the dominant pitchers that we'll face from here on out."

Butler's Division I Fairborn sectional final game against Wayne at Xenia was washed out Saturday. The two Greater Western Ohio Conference rivals will play today at 5 p.m., following the Springfield North-Beavercreek game at 3 p.m. The Butler-Wayne winner will play Cincinnati Anderson Friday in the D-1 district at the Cincinnati Midland baseball complex. The North-Beavercreek winner will play Cincinnati St. Xavier Saturday.

Earlier in the season, Butler rallied from a 3-1 deficit to dispatch Wayne, 10-3. The comeback kids also overcame deficits to win against Hamilton, Centerville, Troy, Springfield North, Piqua, Centerville, Graham and Coldwater (twice).

"This team knows how to win," Dues said. "They never seem to be out of it. We've got a bunch of players, one through nine in the lineup, who want to be at the plate when the game is on the line.

"They're very competitive and that's always a good thing. Clutch hitting is what distinguishes this bunch."

Under Dues, the Aviators have set the gold standard in the defunct Greater Miami Valley Conference and now the GWOC West, winning eight straight titles.

The tradition-rich Aviators went 12-1 in the conference this spring.

"We don't want to be the first team to end that streak," said senior Ryan Radominski. "That would be miserable. So keeping that string alive is what drives us and is something the coaches stress."

Pivoting the attack are Koch (a team-high .472), Radominski (34 RBIs and a .663 slugging percentage), leadoff hitter David Posma (.372), Will Gibson (.392), Brent Collinsworth (.379) and Matt Gordon (.296). The Aviators boast a team batting average of .334 and average seven runs a game.

If there was a Most Improved Hitter in the area, Radominski would be one of the leading candidates.

Last season, Dues often had a designated hitter for him because of his porous .180 batting average. Radominski has reinvented himself at the plate, hitting .420, leading the team in RBIs and producing 12 doubles.

Radominski, a center fielder, and catcher Ben Hughes anchor the defense up the middle.

Ethan Furlong leads the pitching staff with an 8-0 record and a 2.70 earned-run average.

The crafty right-hander keeps batters off balance with his location and effective breaking pitches.

Supporting him are Gordon (3-1, 2.10) and Josh Bell (5-0, 1.81).

Contact Ron Jackson at (513) 932-6785 or ron_jackson@coxohio.com

Copyright, 2003, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.

Author: Ron Jackson Dayton Daily News
Section: SPORTS
Page: C3
Copyright, 2003, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.