America's Newspapers
Paper: Dayton Daily News (OH)
Date: May 16, 2004

XENIA - Tuxedos, boutonnieres, stretch Hummers and curveballs.

Welcome to Zach Gueth's whirlwind this weekend. Gueth and his teammates on the Vandalia Butler baseball team had planned to play Wayne on Saturday in the Division I sectional finals at Xenia, then make a mad dash to the senior prom. But the game was rained out and rescheduled for 2 p.m. today, much to the chagrin of Aviators coach Trent Dues.

Visions of the 4 a.m. after-prom activities swirled in the coach's head.

"We told coach Dues not to worry and that we'll be ready to play," said senior left fielder Gueth, whose prom party plunked down $1,600 for a chauffeured stretch Hummer. "Prom is one of the biggest nights in our teenage lives, and Coach Dues realizes that and he wasn't going to take that away from us."

Said senior shortstop Matt Gordon: "It just adds a little motivation for us because we didn't get the Monday game we preferred. We'll work through it and be fresh, even if it means going on only four or five hours of sleep."

Every spring, Dues circles the prom date on his calendar and avoids game conflicts.

"Coaches have different philosophies on how to handle the prom," Dues said. "My high school coach (legendary Coldwater coach Lou Brunswick) always made sure we had a game the day of the prom. He figured it would keep his players out of trouble. I was concerned until I met with our seniors and they put me at ease saying they'll be ready. It's a memorable weekend for them."

For the ninth season in a row, the Aviators have captured a conference crown. They shared the West Division title of the Greater Western Ohio Conference with Northmont. The baseball stronghold also has won five district titles in that span under Dues.

"This year was a little more gratifying because we had to overcome the loss of our two top pitchers (Ethan Furlong and Josh Bell) early in the season," Dues said. "Other players realized the urgency to step up their game. Our defense tightened and we got solid pitching from individuals we didn't expect to. Plus, we got help from Northmont. They had a three-game lead on us and lost it."

Junior Derek Koogler (5-0), Brent Collinsworth (4-2), Gordon (3-2) and tough-luck Derrick Spieles (1-2) have emerged as capable starters. Bell (strained back) and Furlong (broken elbow) are rehabbing and throwing on the sidelines, hoping for a deep run in the tournament.

Anchoring the offense are designated hitter Collinsworth, center fielder Casey Williams and third baseman Spieles, all with 20-plus RBIs. The No. 2-seeded Aviators own a 12-7 win over Wayne. The winner plays Cincinnati St. Xavier (22-4) next Saturday in a district championship game at UD.

Copyright, 2004, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.

Author: Ron Jackson
Section: SPORTS
Page: C10
Copyright, 2004, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.