Dust Devil baseball set on making a statement
Armed with a huge group of underclasmen, Dayton High’s baseball team starts its second season under Mike Burrows Friday at the Yerington High Invitational.
The Dust Devils, 6-19 a year ago, return eight players. Only five of those players — senior D.J. Baker (290, 10 RBI), senior Gage Duke (.360, 10 RBI), junior Jesse Schmidt (.406), 21 RBI), junior Dylan Baker (.290, 2 HR, 7 RBI) and sophomore Trevor Burrows (.283, 11 RBI) saw significant action. Dayton has just four seniors on this year’s team.
Baker currently has a broken wrist and may not play at all this year, and Duke suffered a season-ending back injury a year ago. Baker was expected to start behind the plate and do some pitching, too. Duke is looking for a starting spot in the outfield.
It’s been a tough year for boys sports at Dayton. Both the football and basketball teams suffered through disappointing seasons, and Burrows hopes his baseball team can get things turned around.
“Even though we are in the midst of a youth movement, I am excited about the team,” coach Burrows said. “Fourteen of the 15 guys on the roster can pitch, so we have some depth there. We are still in the process of separating our starters from our relievers and defining roles for each of them. We had a good summer, and the chemistry seems to be coming together.
“We are the last shot (along with track) I think to salvaging something from this year. I have told my kids the pressure is on us to turn things around and they agree. We’re tired of losing. We can’t control the fact that we’re competing against schools much bigger than us. All we can do is keep up the hard work and eventually that will pay off.”
The injury to D.J. Baker has changed things immensely on the mound and behind the plate. Trevor Burrows has been put in the role of the No. 1 starter. Dylan Baker and junior Mark Rainey are expected to contribute heavily on the mound. Junior Avery Nelson is expected to be a middle reliever.
“Trevor has grown a ton since his freshman season,” coach Burrows said. “Being a lefty with above-average stuff we hope he can give us solid outings to start our three-game series. Dylan will serve a vital role on the pitching staff, too.”
Schmidt, who was slated to start at third base before Baker’s injury, will start behind the plate. Sophomore Jonathan Gibbons, who can play both corner spots, will be the back-up catcher. Another sophomore, Zach Woitas, is expected to start at second base.
“We are excited about their development,” Burrows said.
Dylan Baker starts at short and Jacob Nelson, who got just a handful of at-bats last year, will see action at third base. Senior Kacey Cram will be a utility infielder.
Duke, who hit four homers in 10 games before being sidelined with an injury, junior Nick Hein, sophomore Isaac Von Schoff, freshman Justin Schmidt and junior Spenser Alexander are battling for spots in the outfield. Burrows will play outfield when he doesn’t pitch.
“We need to find a way to keep Gage’s bat in the lineup,” Burrows said. “He can provide some power for us, so if he doesn’t earn a starting defensive spot using him as a DH is a possibility. Spenser could be a key contributor, but he suffered a shoulder injury before last season and has not reached 100 percent.”
NOTES: Burrows has planned his second-ever Alumni game for April 16. There will be a meet and greet at Dayton Valley Inn on Friday and a golf tournament scheduled for Sunday … The game at Aces Ballpark against South Tahoe is considered a home game for the Dust Devils. Admission is free to that game.