The bats stay hot and the Flyers got enough pitching to win the opening game of their weekend series at the Notre Dame Irish Baseball Classic.
CARY, N.C. — It was a poetic baseball victory Friday afternoon for the University of Dayton — Prine and Cline and things were devine.
Maverick Prine did the heavy lifting with his bat, five straight hits and six RBI, Austin Cline survived a shocking start on the mound and pitched six-plus solid innings and the Flyers whipped the University of Massachusetss-Lowell, 13-8.
The game was the first of three for UD this weekend on the Notre Dame Irish Baseball Classic at the USA Baseball Training Complex diamonds.
How often does a player bash five hits and drive in six runs, but doesn’t score a run? That’s what Prine, the designated hitter, did with two doubles, a triple and two singles.
Well, one guy can’t do everything so the scoring was done by center fielder Rob Doring (four runs scored), left fielder Mitch Coughlin (three runs scored) and second baseman Nick Ryan (two runs scored).
When Prine came to bat in the seventh inning all he needed was a home run to complete the cycle (single, double, triple, home run). And it was easily discernible that he knew it. His body language was swing and hit it deep.
Instead he merely singled for two more runs batted in. One of his early-game doubles was close to leaving the Coleman Field ballpark, but his rip down the left field line hit halfway up the wall.
Prine said his folks picked his name, Maverick, out of a baby book and added, “Most people think my name came from Top Gun, but it didn’t.”
On this day the 6-0, 200-pound senior from Davison, Mich. was his own Top Gun.
“Yeah, I knew I had a chance for the cycle,” he said. “That one I hit off the wall — I thought it was gone. I’ve hit for the cycle a couple of times, but not at this level.” He did it at Mott Junior College before transferring to Dayton.
“I’ve had five hits somewhere down the line a couple of times, too, but this was a good day,” he said. “We played good all the way around and our pitching was good.”
It didn’t look as if it would be a banner day for starter Austin Cline. The first pitch he threw, a miscreant slider, was belted over the left field wall.
And he gave up another home run, but through six innings he gave up only four hits two walks and hit a batter, although he was charged with six earned runs.
During his first two starts this season, both losses, he combined for only six innings in those two games. He made it through six but when he hit the first batter and walked the next in the seventh he was taken down.
“Austin was better because he has been struggling with few things,” said pitching coach Ryne Romick. “We’ve tried to keep him positive while he struggled through some issues, but it’s tough when you aren’t getting the results you want. He put in some hard work and then the first pitch he gave up a home run but solo home runs aren’t going to beat you, especially the way our team is swinging the bats right now.”
The Flyers are 3-and-4, but have scored 3, 7, 12, 9, 20, 8 and 13 in those seven games.
When Cline, a sophomore righthander who pitched at Benjamin Logan High School and was 9-and-0 with a 0.27 ERA his senior season, was complimented on his outing, he smiled and said, “Yeah, after that first pitch. I was trying to get it across the zone and get it started early. But it went right down the middle.”
Before issuing his seventh-inning hit batsman, Cline had retired seven straight.
“I really worked on a slider this past week because my curveball, which has been my go-to pitch all my life, well, I haven’t had it the past two weeks. But I had it today, I had three pitches (curve, slider, fastball) that I could control for the most of the game.”
Added Romick, “We probably stretched him a little too far and he got a little fatigued, a hitter too long.”
Lefthander Tyler Henry replaced Cline in the seventh and quickly gave up a four hits and a walk that led to four runs enabling Mass-Lowell to pull to within 9-8, but Prine and the guys scored four in the bottom of the seventh and Henry retired the side in order in the eighth and ninth.
“The difference in that game was that we only struck out one time,” said head coach Tony Vittorio. “It was a hitter’s day with a strong wind blowing out, but us moving that baseball around was good and we had some great at-bats.”
Of Prine, Vittorio said, “That was a great day for Maverick. Sometimes he gets a little too juiced up, but that’s a positive for him, too. He controlled his at bats and had an awesome day for us.
“He had a broken thumb early last season and in my opinion we kind of rushed him back a little bit and he didn’t have a great year because we rushed him.”
The Top Gun is making up for it. In seven games he is hitting .500 (9 for 18) with four doubles, a triple and eight RBI.
The Flyers try to level their record Saturday afternoon against Wake Forest.