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By: Ryan Wallace -

VANDALIA - The walk-up song for Butler batters has been a part of the Aviator’s game day experience for years.

Former Aviator and 2008 graduate Zach Dumler easily holds the distinction for most unique song however, being welcomed to each plate appearance by the Zulu chants that precede the Lion King’s Circle of Life.

“Zach was a character,” said head coach Trent Dues. “He made coming to the ballpark enjoyable every day.”

Unique as it might have been, when translated to English it couldn’t have been more perfect.

“Nants ingonyama bagithi baba [Here comes a lion, Father]
Sithi uhm ingonyama [Oh yes, it's a lion]

Nants ingonyama bagithi baba [Here comes a lion, Father]
Sithi uhm ingonyama [Oh yes, it's a lion]

Ingonyama [It's a lion]
Siyo Nqoba [We're going to conquer]”

Whether it was opposing pitchers while at the plate, or bearing down on batters from the mound, like a lion, Dumler conquered the competition throughout his career at Butler.

His biggest conquest however, was a major battle that he would have to face off of the field. Dumler was born with a heart defect that limited the flow of blood to his heart.

As a third grader, Dumler underwent angioplasty to increase blood flow. Despite the procedure, the young Dumler was still restricted when it came to sports.

“As a child I wasn’t allowed to play many contact sports or sports that required a lot of running,” Dumler said. “It didn’t interfere with my baseball career though. I fell in love with baseball, probably because it was the only sport I was able to play without being singled out.”

In July of 2006, at the age of 17, Dumler would undergo a six-hour open heart surgery. While he was in and out of the hospital in just an incredible three days, the cracked sternum he received from the surgery kept him down for two months.

Down, but not out. With a successful surgery behind him, Dumler got the greenlight to play basketball, a sport that he had previously been forced to give up as a child. That winter Dumler tried out for and made the Butler varsity basketball team.

"It was probably the happiest day of my life when I finally got the OK to play. I've always loved sports and just hoped for the chance to compete." said Dumler.

For Dumler though, his first love would always be baseball.

He made his varsity debut around tournament time of his freshman season, and became a regular by the time his sophomore year rolled around, spending the bulk of his time as a pitcher and first baseman.

“I played anywhere that I was told and that would benefit the team,” Dumler recalled.

Versatile as he was, and the 6-foot-1, 210 pound southpaw quickly made a name for himself on the mound for the Aviators.

“Zach was a bulldog on the mound,” said Dues. “He always had really good stuff from the left side.”

Good stuff indeed.

Dumler enjoyed his breakout season as a junior. That year he finished with a 7-2 record and sported a 2.15 ERA. A mark that would earn him a First-Team GWOC North designation.

As a senior, he came on even stronger, touting a fastball that reached speeds north of 90 mph. Dumler would have his most successful season from the bump, striking out 84 batters, en route to a 6-1 record and 1.22 ERA. The lefty also had three shutout wins to his credit.

As dominant as he was on the mound, he was equally as devastating to opponents at the plate.

“Zach also swung the bat very well,” recalled Dues.

As a senior, Dumler led the Aviators in most all offensive categories. Boasting a batting average of .485, 35 RBI, 2 HR and 6 doubles.

The impressive campaign earned Dumler First-Team GWOC North honors for the second year and saw him named the GWOC North Athlete of the Year.

While the Aviators finished an uncharacteristic second place in 2007 and 2008, Dumler was a key part of Butler’s successful post-season run, netting a District Title in 2008.

When looking back, Dumler recalls the importance of the team first attitude that carried the Aviators to a deep tournament run.

“For current Aviators, I stress the importance of building relationships with each other and having each other’s back,” stated Dumler. “Buy in to what Coach Dues is preaching, because his knowledge and understanding of the game has given him the success he has today.”

After an improbable tournament run and District crown, the Aviators would eventually fall in the regional semi-final to Lakota East, by a score of 4-3.

“That game sticks out the most in my mind,” said Dumler. “I really wish I could go back and relive that moment and I wish things would have worked out differently.”

“Colton Catani was the starting shortstop for Lakota East, Dumler recalled. “He hit the game tying home run in the bottom of the seventh inning and they went on to win the game in extra innings.”

And while the sting of that defeat remains, the triumphs are abundant as well. When asked about the good times, Dumler’s mind quickly took him back to a clutch performance against a familiar foe.

“It was my junior year and we played Northmont during a crucial time in the season, with tournament approaching,” Dumler remembered. “I started on the mound and went the distance beating them. It felt great because not only did it give us momentum going into the tournament, but also because they were such a big rival.”

In looking back at his achievements as an Aviator, Dumler is quick to credit the Butler Baseball staff.

“We were, and still are really lucky to have a group of coaches who care about the players and live for the game,” said Dumler.

After a successful high school career, one that seemed nearly impossible so many years ago, Dumler was about to realize a lifelong dream.

Three schools came calling, but it was Ohio Dominican University in Columbus that Dumler would officially sign with.

Dumler spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons as a pitcher for the Panthers, before transferring to the University of Rio Grande, where he would finish his collegiate career.

He played a number of positions for the Redstorm, and wrapped up his career with a .321 batting average, 8 doubles and 34 RBI and finished 2-0 from the mound in 8 appearances.

Dumler graduated from the University of Rio Grande in 2013, and returned to the baseball team the following year as a member of the coaching staff.

In 2015 he left the Redstorm to attend Ohio University, where he would go on to earn a Master’s Degree in Coaching and Leadership.

While at OU, Dumler joined the Bobcats baseball staff, winning a MAC Championship during the 2014-2015 season.

After graduating from Ohio University, Dumler left coaching and returned to Columbus, Ohio where he currently resides with his fiancé Meg Cummins and is a professional in the mortgage industry, working for JPMorgan Chase.

Reflecting on it all, Dumler emphasized the importance of having the love and support of his parents along the way.

“I’ve been incredibly blessed to have my parents and my younger brother Ben by my side,” Dumler said. “I appreciate them always being there and leading me in the right direction throughout my life and career.”

It’s only fitting that this article ends similarly to how it began – with another reference to the opening sequence to the Circle of Life.

The happy couple recently learned that they are expecting. It’s now time to conquer that thing called parenthood – here comes a lion.