Darrell Moody: Dayton baseball on the rise
If you follow Dayton High athletics at all, you know the Dust Devils have gone through some tough times in the last five or six years.
The only programs that have enjoyed recent regional or state success are the volleyball and track teams.
Mike Burrows, Dayton High baseball coach, is hoping to change that this year.
Burrows’ Dust Devil baseball team is currently riding a six-game winning streak and is tied for first place in the Northern 3A with Elko. Both teams are 7-3 heading into the weekend.
“We don’t get the (crowd) support like football and basketball, but lately some more people are showing up,” Burrows said earlier this week. “There is a little buzz going on.
“The kids are coming to work everyday knowing they can compete; knowing they aren’t going to get 10-runned.”
There’s nothing that says excitement like winning, and Dayton is winning in impressive fashion. During the six-game winning streak, the Dust Devils have outscored opponents, 66-9.
“I think we are right on schedule,” Burrows said. “Last year our goal was just to make the playoffs and to make state this year. I think there were some raised eyebrows (about making state). I think they are starting to believe.
“After making the playoffs and losing two tough games the light went off that we weren’t that far away from other schools. They bought into the off-season schedule.”
Burrows’ team played a ton of summer baseball, and that’s another reason for improved play. The kids now believe in themselves, and that’s half the battle.
And, this is a team with tremendous chemistry.
“I have had these kids since they were 9 years old,” Burrows said. “The kids and the parents.
“We also have a good coaching staff; maybe the best we’ve had here since I worked with Craig (Miller). Ryan Ransdell works with the catchers and our hitters; Jeremy Kinney works with the pitchers and then we have Brian Woitas. They have all done a phenomenal job.”
The Dust Devils have a great blend of pitching and hitting. Seven of the nine hitters — Jesse Schmidt (.585), Trevor Burrows (.490), Justin Schmidt (.452), Dylan Baker (.350), Nick Hein (.342), Cole Purdy (.312) and C.J. Wilhite (.310) — are all hitting over .300. The team is hitting a robust .375.
“We are swinging it pretty well and putting pressure on opposing defenses and we’ve been getting timely hits,” Burrows said. “If we hadn’t blown two eight-run leads, we’d be 9-1. Our defense let us down those two games.”
Jesse Schmidt leads the 3A in homers (5), slugging percentage, runs batted in and runs. And, he’s third in average and second in stolen bases.
The starting staff of Trevor Burrows, Baker and Isaac Von Schoff has been impressive in league play. Von Schoff is 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA, Baker has a 1.96 ERA and Burrows has a 1.68 ERA.
“I think we have the best 1-2-3 pitching staff in the league,” Burrows said. “The third games of our series’ can sometimes be slugfests, but Isaac Von Schoff could be a No. 2 on most teams in the league. He has done a good job.
“We have to keep our pitch counts down. We have to monitor how much we throw in practice. We have the league rule of 110 pitches in a game and 140 in the week. Trevor threw 110 on Friday and 84 yesterday against South Tahoe. I wasn’t going to let him go past 90. For each guy it’s a little different; guys’ arms rally differently.”
There are always surprises when a team improves like Dayton has, and Burrows pointed to two guys, Wilhite and Justin Schmidt.
“C.J. was not able to play last year because of grades, and I didn’t expect him to win a starting job,” coach Burrows said. “He is starting in center, and that has allowed me to play Trevor at first when he’s not pitching, which saves his arm a little.
“He is batting in the No. 9 hole and he’s in the top 10 in the league. To have a hitter like he is in the No. 9 hole with the ability to turn over the batting line-up to Trevor and Jessie Schmidt is big. We didn’t have anybody to bat clean-up this year, and Justin has really come through.”