Greg Billing
Greg Billing

Greg Billing began covering high school, college and professional sports in the Miami Valley in 1988 when he was a junior at Miami East High School. The Wright State University graduate has worked at the Troy Daily News (1996-1997), Springfield News-Sun (1997-2001) and the Dayton Daily News (2001-2016). He was inducted into the Dayton Auto Racing Fan Club's (DARF) Hall of Fame in 2015 for his auto racing coverage and has also earned numerous Associated Press awards for stories, headline writing and special sports sections. Greg lives in West Milton with his wife and two daughters. When not covering events, he and his wife are cheering for the girls as they play a variety of sports for the Milton-Union Bulldogs.


Inconsistency struck again at Spectrum Stadium. The UD Flyers committed miscues and couldn’t come up with that clutch hit in an 11-7 loss to Toledo on Wednesday.

Dayton – It could be said about the Dayton Flyers baseball team this season that the only consistency they’ve shown is being inconsistent.

The Flyers woes continued on a cloudy but otherwise perfect afternoon for baseball on Wednesday at Woerner Field/Spectrum Stadium. Pitching put Dayton in a deficit just three batters into the game. Errors aided the visiting Toledo Rockets’ offense. And Dayton’s own offense – thought it banged out eight hits – couldn’t crack that clutch hit.

Dayton entered Wednesday on an uptick following Tuesday’s 3-2 win at Eastern Kentucky University. The victory snapped a seven-game losing streak. But the Flyers haven’t fared well after wins this season and dropped an 11-7 decision to Toledo on Wednesday in front of 107 spectators.

The Flyers (11-25 overall) are 2-9 after victories this season. They’re now also 2-12 in April. The Rockets (14-23) have battled their own struggles this season. But Toledo has found its form of late with a four-game winning streak and wins in six of its last eight games.

That Rockets’ streak could serve as some sort of inspiration that the Flyers, too, can turn the season around.

“It’s not that they’re not trying. It might be they’re even trying too hard,” Dayton coach Tony Vittorio said. “We just need better minds. That’s what we try to work on, not only the physical side of the game but the mental side, too.”

The Flyers defense committed their 46th, 47th, 48th and 49th errors of the season Wednesday. Two of them in the first inning led to Toledo’s first run. First came freshman pitcher Dom Coconcelli’s pick-off attempt that sailed past first base. Then came first baseman Tate Hagan’s ill-advised backhand attempt to glove a grounder that let the run score.

To UD’s credit Dayton battled back after trailing 4-0 after three innings. Pat Meehan singled to center with one out and Hagan earned a two-out walk. Sidney’s Connor Echols then launched a 3-1 pitch to left-centerfield– a blast of about 360 feet – for a three-run homer. It was Echol’s second home run of the season.

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Toledo, perhaps remembering they won eight straight games against Dayton from 2010-14, rekindled that fire and burned the Flyers with a decisive six-run fifth inning.

Josh Cales led off with a homer making it 5-3. A walk, sacrifice bunt and another walk put runners on the corners. A throwing error down the third base line by catcher Bailey Montoya made it 6-3. Casey Gose hit a grounder between first and the pitcher’s mound that UD hurler Mason Kutroff fielded and lobbed to first, enabling Gose to beat it out and make it 7-3. Brad Boss homered to right for the 9-3 lead. After a line out, Matt Hansen hit a solo homer to make it 10-3.

“Coaches can say all they want to say,” Vittorio said of pep talks and inspirational speeches. “But it’s up to the guys and the leadership of the team. We’ve tried all that stuff. We’ll continue to do our job and drive it until they make the decision this isn’t going to happen.”

UD starter Coconcelli lasted 1.1 innings after allowing four hits, three runs (one earned), walking one and striking out three. He faced 10 batters and threw 49 pitches.

“Everything starts with pitching and tempo of the game,” Vittorio said. “It was Dom’s first start and I thought his tempo was terrible. He needed to pick up his tempo and tried to do it in the second inning and it didn’t work. Everything snowballed from there, especially on the mound.”

Minster’s Josh Nixon (1-1) relieved Coconcelli and allowed four hits and three runs (all earned) in 2.2 innings pitched. He walked two and struck out three in taking the loss.

In all, Dayton used seven pitchers as Toledo banged out 11 runs on 13 hits. The Rockets left 12 on base and committed two errors.

Dayton collected seven runs on eight hits and left seven on base. The Flyers still had a chance in the bottom of the seventh trailing 11-4. They had the bases loaded with one out when Cale Dineen was hit by a pitch (11-5) and Brandon Smith walked (11-6). But Hagan fouled out to the catcher and Robbie Doring struck out looking to end the inning.

“That’s been pretty consistent,” Vittorio said of a team hitting .241. “That’s what causes a bad season. The positive is we’ve got 20 more and we’ll see what we can here on out.”

Greg_Billing_thumb_81316There were positives for the Flyers. Echols’ homer extended his hitting streak to seven games. And with his walk, Smith has reached base 17 straight games.

“The positives are out of some of the sophomores and freshmen so we’ll build upon that,” Vittorio said.

Dayton resumes Atlantic 10 play at St. Louis on Friday and Saturday. The Flyers are 1-8 in the A10.

“We made a couple mistakes early in the game,” Vittorio said. “Obviously when you’re not playing well you need a lot of things to go your way. It didn’t go our way. … A road trip might be good for us right now. Spend some time together and getting them on the same page.”

*    Flyer baseball is sponsored, in part, by the generous support of Aldebaran Capital, LLC

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