They hit like the ’27 Yankees on day, and they’re baffled the next by a young sophomore from William and Mary. The Dayton Flyers look to find some consistency on the mound and at the plate before A-10 play begins.
CARY, N.C. — The running joke for any men’s college athletic team scheduled to play William & Mary in any sport is: “We hope Mary shows up but William doesn’t.”
Unfortuately for the University of Dayton baseball team, not only did both William and Mary show Saturday afternoon, but so did a lefthanded pitcher named Bodie Sheehan.
Sheehan stuck out 11 Flyers, all swinging, in 7 2/3 shutout innings to lead William & Mary to a 7-0 victory in the Notre Dame Irish Classic at the USA Baseball Training Complex.
The tone was set from the time the umpire signaled for play to begin when Sheehan, a 6-0,185-pound sophomore, struck out the first four Flyers.
UD Coach Tony Vittorio was ecstatic Friday afternoon when his Flyers struck out only once during a 13-8 victory over UMass-Lowell.
And during Dayton’s first seven games this season they averaged nearly 10 runs a game and 12 hits. A year ago it took the Flyers 19 games to score 69 runs. They did it this year in seven games.
But Saturday they were the hitless wonders. They had three hits off Sheehan and four for the game. Their first hit was a bunt single by Connor Echols in the fourth inning. Their fourth hit was an infield single with two outs in the ninth.
In between they had back-to-back singles by Matt Poland and Pat Meehan with one out in the fifth inning.
Nothing else. W&M’s Sheehan hasn’t given up an extra base hit all year — and still hasn’t. He had the Flyers swinging-and-missing on a montonous diet of mid-80’s fastballs on the outside corner.
After Sheehan struck out Nick Ryan, Connor Echols and Robbie Doring in the top of the first, William & Mary went to work offensively.
UD freshman Jordan Cox gave up three runs, three hits, two walks and hit a batter during a 34-pitch first inning, the only inning he pitched.
Cox gave up a single to open the bottom of the first, retired a batter, then gave up a home run to Cullen Large, whose home run was very large. A single, a hit-by-pitch and another walk loaded the bases and Cox issued a four-pitch walk to force in the inning’s third run.
That’s all the W&M Tribe needed to push its record to 5-and-4 while the Flyers fell to 3-and-5 with a game Sunday against the Big Ten’s University of Maryland.
“We got a bad start off the mound,” said Vittorio. “He had a problem locating pitches, that’s the bottom line. He got behind on the three-hole hitter (Large) 2-and-0 and put a pitch right down the middle of the plate and he hit it out of the park.
“It was a freshman mistake but you still have to make a pitch to him. He is a Division I three-hole hitter and that’s how they all hit at this level,” Vittorio added. “The story of that game was simply a bad start on the mound and we got absolutely zero done offensively. Zero done and it was like we should have stayed home.”
After Cox’s first inning he was replaced by Mason Kutruff, a starter last season who has been converted to the bullpen.
He started out swimmingly — two scoreless innings of facing the minimum six batters.
But he issued a couple of walks that led to run on an error in the fourth and gave up couple more runs in the fifth on a double, infield hit, error and a single.
For his four innings, he gave up only one earned run and two unearned runs on four hits and three walks, while he struck out four.
“Mason has been up and down, been inconsistent,” said Vittorio. “That’s what we have to fight for, consistency on the mound. We have a couple of more weekends before Atlantic 10 conference play begins and we need to find some type of consistency on the mound. We haven’t found it yet.
“Mason is in that category,” said Vittorio. “He pitched better — struck out four, but walked three. To me that’s still up-and-down. He was 60 per cent on advantage counts (when the pitcher is ahead of the hitter) and that has to be at 75 per cent or above, so he isn’t there yet. And Cox was at 44 per cent, getting down in the count against a Division I baseball team and you won’t do well when you do that.”
About Sheehan and his 11 strikeouts, Vittorio said, “We were late on our swings early in the game and that kind of surprised me. We were late on his fastball. Four strikeouts in a row, the first four hitters in the game, that kind of sets a tone.”
And of his team’s offense, Vittorio said, “Offense is something that comes and goes and it goes more often than it comes. That’s why finding consistency on the mound is so important to us right now.”