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Thirty Two and Counting
Thirty Two and Counting
Published by John C.
Thirty Two and Counting

CHANDLER (AZ) -- If you havenít been paying attention, the Flyer baseball team is putting together one of itís best seasons ever. After a slow start where the hitting and pitching just couldnít match up, the Flyers find themselves in second place in the A-10 just Ĺ game behind the Rhone Island Rams. After starting the season 8-9, the Flyers have won 24 of 29 games.

With just nine games (six league games) left, the Flyers have almost assuredly clinched a spot in the six team A-10 tournament that will be played at Fifth Third Field in late May. Should they maintain their current position in second place, (they have a four game lead) they will receive an all important bye in the first round. Probably more than any other sport, a bye in baseball allows you to save your number one pitcher until the second round. In a double elimination tournament, the fewer games you have to play early, the better.

What is amazing is that Tony Vittorioís Flyers lost their best pitcher three weeks into the season with a torn ACL. Burny Mitchem had started off the season 1-0 with a 0.55 earned run average while giving up just nine hits in 16 innings. Mitchem is the number one guy that every team loves to have. He is a power pitcher that throws strikes. In a sport that is dominated by the offense with their metal bats, he would have been the guy that could almost guarantee a win every time out. With Burny out, the Flyers scrambled for a bit. Then it all came together.

In the first 17 games, the offense average 6.5 runs per game. Since that time, it has averaged over 9. Monday is a perfect example of the explosiveness of the offense as they scored 22 runs and scored in each of the first seven innings. Despite the loss of Mitchem, the pitching has improved as the average runs per games has fallen from 7.5 runs per game to 5.8. Put this all together and you quite possibly have the best team ever assembled at the University of Dayton.

With 32 wins and nine games remaining, it is conceivable that they could reach 40 wins before they make it to the A-10 Tournament. At the moment, they are only four wins away from tying the current school record.

This is a team that is led by nine hitters that see extensive action and all are batting over .300 with two over .400. In addition, it is a team that will have four players with double digit home runs. Forty-six games into the season and they have already hit 67 home runs. Last year they hit 28 with no one hitting over eight and only three batters hitting over .300. Clearly, this is a team that can and will do well in the post season. UD could be looking at itís first trip to the NCAA tournament.

In his 12 years at Dayton, Tony Vittorio has elevated the program to heights that even Ted Kissell could not have dreamed of. One can only hope that there will be some additional funds for the program and a few more scholarships so that Vittorio can continue to make Dayton a winner. Currently, the program has to work with fewer scholarships than most Division I programs and certainly the ones that it must compete with in the Midwest. Tim Wabler, are you listening?
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