Witchcraft, a little ‘OOGAHBOOGAH’, is now in the lexicon of the University of Dayton baseball team after a 5-2 victory Tuesday afternoon at Woerner Field.
Dayton – For the University of Dayton baseball team and Director of Baseball Operations Fred Worth it was the cliche, “Desperate measures for desperate times.”
After all, the Flyers were 5-and-17 with bats colder than an exposed nose at the Arctic Circle, a team batting average of .220.
So, after practice Monday at Woerner Field, Worth and head coach Tony Vittorio gathered the team in a field near the ballpark.
“Somebody has really ticked off the baseball Gods and we need to appease them,” said Worth. “Time for some voodoo”
He took a wooden bat and snapped it in half. He partially buried the two pieces, poured gasoline on them and torched them. As they burned, he had the team form a circle. He had them take three steps to the left and chant, “Oooga.” Then he had them take three steps to the right and chant “Oooga.”
Then he had them take their personal bats and hold them over their heads and run to the outfield wall and back chanting, “Oogaboogah, oogaboogah.” Then he rescued the charred remains of the burned bat barrel and placed it in the dugout for Tuesday’s game against Eastern Kentucky and had each hitter rub it before they batted.
Did it work? Well, oogaboogah is now in the lexicon of the University of Dayton baseball team after a 5-2 victory Tuesday afternoon at Woerner Field.
The Flyers, who were averaging seven hits a game, put together 10 hits to record their sixth win of the season. Center fielder Glenn Jones had three hits and drove in three of the five runs, right fielder Robbie Doring had hits in each of his first three times up and catcher Matt Poland contributed two.
It isn’t certain if ‘oogaboogah’ helps the pitchers, but UD left hander Mason Kutruff stuck a pin in the EKU hitters and escaped more trouble than Tarzan surrounded by crocodiles.
Kutruff, a 6-4, 240-pound sophomore from Martinsville, Ind., was 0-and-3 with a 10.43 earned run average when his day began. He held EKU scoreless for six innings before giving up two unearned runs in the seventh. He pitched seven innings and gave up two runs, no earned runs, five hits, walked one and struck out five.
Then the bullpen of Tyler Henry and Ben Polansky pitched two perfect innings to close it out.
Before the game, pitching coach Ryne Romick said, “We’ve worked on some mechanical things with Kutruff to slow him down a bit. Let’s see if he takes it to the mound and keeps it.”
He did, he really did. . .all seven innings.
“He was breaking his hands a little too quickly,” said Romick. “It was a timing issue, a lot of stuff moving too quickly. If you’re not consistent it is tough to throw strikes. We wanted to see people swing the bat and he has good stuff. He has to make people think early that he is a strike-thrower and then you get swings and misses.”
Kutruff walked the first batter he faced and then no more.
“I was able to stay through my pitches, not rush through them and I stayed compact,” he said. “I stayed with it the whole game, didn’t rush anything.”
He said the game-opening walk was the result of, “Just getting used to the mound a little bit, settle in.”
Kutruff’s task was made more difficult by several defensive lapses by his usually steady-handed teammates. They made five errors behind him, three by shortstop Pat Meehan, a day he’ll wipe from his memory bank.
Meehan and first baseman Mark Giesler each made an error on routine ground balls in the sixth inning and Kutruff found himself in a bases loaded with two outs dilemma. He had already struck out two hitters that inning and took matters into his own talented left hand again by striking out Kenny Hostrander to end the inning.
“I got him with a curveball,” Kutruff said. “I used a little bit of everything I have, mixing it up each inning. I got some on fastballs, some of curveballs, some on changeups. I had a real good mix.”
But his defense also bailed him out of mischief in the fourth when the first two Colonels reached base, one on Kutruff’s own error. With one out, the Flyers ended the inning on a Maverick Prine (second base) to Meehan (shortstop) to Giesler (first base) double play.
The Flyers scored two in the third on one infield hit, an error, two walks (one forcing in a run) and a sacrifice fly by Jones.
Jones broke it open in the fourth when the Flyers scored two runs after they had two outs and nobody on. “Scoring a couple of runs after we had two outs and nobody on is something we haven’t done much of this season,” said Vittorio.
After Robbie Doring and Connor Echols both singled, Jones drove a double to the right center gap for two runs and a 4-0 Flyers lead.
“I hit an outside fastball,” said Jones. It was the perfect pitch that fit his plans. “Just before the pitch, I saw the right fielder move close to the line, leaving a big hole in right center. I purposely went that way with the outside pitch and it found the hole,” said Jones.
Vittorio was pleased with the pitching performances by Kutruff, Henry and Polansky.
“The whole game our pitchers did a great job,” said Vittorio. “Our relief pitchers came in and competed well. A couple of two-out knocks is something we haven’t seen forever. Nobody on base, two outs, we score two. And Glenn Jones swung the bat well all day, along with Robbie Doring.
Of Kutruff, he said, “I was happy he stayed right after it in the sixth after we booted the ball all over the lot. He pitched right out of it.”
The Flyers play at Miami Wednesday afternoon and it is likely the charred bat barrel will have a seat front and center on the team bus. (Page Design by Julie McMaken Wright)
* Flyer baseball is sponsored on Press Pros, in part, by the class of 2004!