Dayton boys off to 4-0 start |

Dayton boys off to 4-0 start

Justin Lawson

DAYTON – Two years ago, the Dayton baseball team rode a senior-laiden class all the way to the state tournament as some eager freshmen looked on wondering if they would reach the same heights.

When those freshmen became sophomores last year and were admittedly thrushed into varsity too soon, the result was disaster as the Dust Devils missed the playoffs all together.

Now, those sophomores are juniors and have felt the agony of an 11-18 season, while watching other Northern 3A teams play in the postseason and that hasn’t sat well with anyone.

“It felt horrible,” senior infielder Timmy Doyle said. “It was a big change from my first two years. We had the potential to go (to the playoffs) and it just didn’t happen.”

Dayton is already off to a 4-0 start and will open its league schedule at Sparks at 4 p.m. today.

Connor Oliver will lead the Dust Devils from the mound. The team’s best pitcher from a year ago, had a 3.59 ERA in 54.2 innings and struck out 85 batters.

It also returns four pitchers who threw 18 or more innings last year including Logan Garlin (5.79 ERA in 38.2 innings) and Jason Maxim (7.12 ERA in 40.1 innings).

Offensively, Doyle will lead a team full of contact hitters. The senior batted .370 last years with 16 RBIs and 28 runs out of the leadoff spot.

“Even though we’re young, there’s a lot of playoff experience,” Dayton coach Jay Merrell said. “I think it really hit home with them last year not making it to the playoffs when they were expecting it.

“Definitely, they worked harder in the offseason…”