America's Newspapers
Paper: Dayton Daily News (OH)
Title: JUNIOR BEATS EARLY SLUMP TO STAR FOR AVIATORS - Butler pitcher hit .431, with 6 home runs and 19 RBIs
Date: May 25, 2000

VANDALIA - At least 10 members of the red-hot Vandalia Butler baseball squad are "graduates" of Bill Miller U.

Pitcher Tommy Hertlein is among the special group of kids (eight of Butler's starting nine) that played under Miller - with marked success - in Vandalia summer youth leagues since they were seven.

"Just about everything I know I learned from Coach Miller," said Hertlein, a strapping junior right-hander. "He was also my role model and my inspiration."

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Neighbors Athlete of the Week has been playing a key role this spring for coach Trent Dues' Greater Miami Valley Conference champions, who were 22-2, rated No. 1 in the state (Division II) and looming large in postseason play.

In fact, Hertlein has provided a two-way spark as both a pitcher and hitter for the soaring Aviators.

He was among the team leaders at bat with a formidable .431 average, six home runs, 19 RBIs and a sparkling on-base percentage of .560.

In a recent 4-3 win over Miamisburg, Hertlein clubbed a 330-foot two-run homer to pull the game out in the fifth inning.

"Tom came on strong (as a hitter) late in the season, overcoming a bad slump," said Dues, in his sixth year as coach. "We did some tinkering with his grip on the bat, and boom, he got as hot as a firecracker."

Not much tinkering, if any, was required in the pitching department, where the fastballing Hertlein was cruising along with a 5-1 record and a smart 2.53 ERA.

Going into the big tourney game against Bellefontaine, he owned 35 strikeouts and only 11 walks in 36 innings.

"He changes speeds very well, locates well and has been throwing in the low to middle 80s," Dues said. "For the most part, he's a quiet kid who just goes out and gets the job done."

* Contact Mickey Zezzo at 236-6032 or by e-mail at lzezzo@aol.com

Copyright, 2000, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.

Author: Mickey Zezzo For the Dayton Daily News
Section: NEIGHBORS
Page: Z5-14
Copyright, 2000, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.