America's Newspapers
Paper: Dayton Daily News (OH)
Title: PITCHING KEEPS AVIATORS FLYING - Complete games key doubleheader sweep of C-J
Date: April 18, 2004

DAYTON - Vandalia Butler didn't have much coming back from the baseball team that advanced to the regional semifinals last season. But the Aviators were strong in at least one area - pitching.

"The pitchers carried the team in summer ball," said Butler senior Zac Gueth after the Aviators defeated Chaminade-Julienne 8-2 and 7-4 in a doubleheader Saturday at Patterson Park. "They're used to the pressure. What we do as hitters is try to get a couple clutch hits."

That's been the formula for Butler (10-4), which was the last Division I team from the Miami Valley alive in the 2003 state tournament. Although that squad, which went 25-5, doesn't much resemble this year's team - only two position starters return - there are similarities on the mound, where the starting staff features three seniors and two juniors.

"Even with that pitching, we had a shaky start," senior Matt Gordon said. "We lost a couple games we should've won, but we knew we were in good shape with the pitching we have."

Even though the Aviators' arms kept in shape during the offseason, summer ball produced a snag for the Butler rotation. Ethan Furlong, the senior ace, broke his right elbow throwing a pitch in a summer game. Doctors had to insert a metal rod for stability, and Furlong was given a choice before the season: pitch with the rod in and risk injury, or take the rod out and rehab, a four-week process.

"He chose to keep the rod in and felt very good early in the spring," Butler coach Trent Dues said. "He pitched two complete games with no problem. Then, there was a problem."

Furlong, 10-1 last season, started Butler's 6-4 loss to Springfield North on Wednesday. During the first inning, pain set in and his season was over.

Hurlers Josh Bell, Derrick Spieles, Gordon, Brent Collinsworth and Derek Koogler have combined to pick up the slack. Spieles (2-0) pitched a complete game in the first win Saturday, and Koogler (1-0) went the distance in the second. Collinsworth held Fairmont, the No. 5 team in the Miami Valley Baseball Coaches Association Poll, to three runs on four hits in a 14-3 win Friday night.

Even in Butler's losses - 8-7 to Cuyahoga Falls, last season's state runner-up, 4-1 to Hamilton and 9-7 to Hilliard Davidson - pitching has kept games close.

"I think our pitching has saved us in a lot of games," said Spieles, who homered in the second game Saturday. "We're not thinking about who we have or who we don't have. We're just trying to win."

Contact Kyle Nagel at 225-7389.

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

Author: Kyle Nagel
Section: SPORTS
Page: C9
Copyright, 2004, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.