VANDALIA - The Butler Baseball team officially opens the 2017 season on Saturday, March 25th hitting the road to square off against familiar foe Coldwater.
For Butler's Trent Dues, it will be his 23rd opener
as the Aviators head coach. After
amassing 455 wins since his first game as Butler skipper, Dues' approach to each
new season has stood the test of time.
"I just want us
to keep getting better every day and hopefully that will allow us to have
strong season and post season," said Dues.
That philosophy, coupled with the extraordinary consistency
within the varsity coaching staff, has allowed the Aviators to be a fixture not
only atop their division each year, but also in the OHSAA Tournament.
Assistants Steve Clark, Mike Bardonaro and Scott Thompson have been key fixtures within the program and significant contributors to the continued success.
Winners of the division in 17 of the last 22 seasons, the Aviators will again be focused on taking care of business in the GWOC North. It is a feat however that will not come easily. Despite the fact that Butler has gone a perfect 10-0 in division play over the last two seasons, an already competitive division just got a little bit tougher in the off-season.
"Tippecanoe joins the GWOC North this season and will
add to the difficulty of winning our division," said Dues. "I would love to win a third consecutive
GWOC North Title, but it is not going to be easy."
Adding to what should be daunting division schedule, Butler
will again face a very strong non-conference schedule, which includes a return
trip to Myrtle Beach and the Ripken Experience.
Not only does the trip south allow the Aviators to escape the Ohio cold, it also provides an opportunity to go toe-to-toe with highly competitive, non-traditional opponents.
"We are looking forward to our Myrtle Beach spring trip where we play a difficult schedule in a great baseball atmosphere," said Dues.
While Butler certainly took a few hits from graduation, a number of cornerstone players return.
For the Aviators it starts on the mound where they return sophomore and Wright State commit Braedon Norman (6-1, 1.72 ERA), senior Zach Crawford (3-1, 1.75 ERA), senior Findlay commit Tyler Burley (2-0, 0.00 ERA), senior Gavin Kohler (0.50 ERA) along with senior Dylan Welch (1-0, 3.66 ERA).
Fellow seniors Ryan Townsend, Nathan Stogdill, along with juniors Jacob DeMoss, Joe Jackson and Ryan Qvick, round out what should prove to be a very deep stable of arms.
On the receiving end, junior Dolen Fults has worked hard to
further strengthen his game behind the plate and looks to be the guy who will
catch the bulk of the innings for Butler this spring. Seniors Matt Grossman (.347) and Henry
Barwick will provide depth at the
Infield play for the Aviators should again be sound as
Butler returns senior, three year starter Tyler Burley (.447)
at third base, along with senior, four year starter, Wright State commit Damon
Dues (.395) at shortstop.
Matt Grossman and Burley as well as juniors Logan Flatt
(.241) and Qvick will man first base.
Juniors Preston Tofstad, Jack Mitchell and Braedon Norman add
a dimension of agility, as all three can play anywhere in the infield and will
add depth based on pitching match-ups.
Joe Jackson will provide depth and senior Scott Hall will be
strategically utilized as a pinch runner.
Patrolling the outfield will be seniors Nathan Stogdill
(.265), Gavin Kohler (.250), Henry Barwick, Zach Crawford and Ryan Townsend, along
with juniors Jacob DeMoss, Jack Mitchell, Logan Flatt and Joe Jackson.
As they are every year, the questions of the preseason are quickly answered once the season begins to unfold. "Right now we have a lot of positions that are very competitive, we will let the cream rise to the top."
This story appears courtesy of the Press Pros Magazine
By Joe Neves
April 20, 2016
Vandalia – The Troy Trojans entered Tuesday’s game with the Butler Aviators scoreless in their last 14 innings.
“Everything was working,” said the soft-spoken Norman. “Change was working, curve was working, and they weren’t touching it. When things are going like that you just want to keep the rhythm going. Keep the pace up.”
The last thing they needed was to face Braedon Norman.
Norman, Butler’s freshman sensation, held the Trojans to a measly 7th inning infield single and struck-out 12 as Butler won 2-0. The win improved Norman to 4-0 and his team to 14-0.
“We aren’t hitting at all,” said Troy coach Ty Welker in a silent Troy dugout after his team had been blanked for the third straight time. “We have no mental approach at the plate and we’re guessing. Taking nothing away from Norman, who pitched an outstanding game. But we have to compete at some point, and we didn’t do that at the plate tonight.”
Butler scored the only runs of the game in the bottom of the first. Troy senior Jordan Peck gave up a one out double to Tyler Burley, a walk to Matt Grossman, and a base-hit to Chandler Craine that scored Burley. The ball was mis-handled in the outfield, and that error allowed Grossman to score easily.
On this day, that is all the hard-hitting Aviators would get.
Peck held Butler, hitting .375 as a team coming in, to three hits. He walked two, struck out two, and hit a batter. He was good enough to win 99% of the time, but not when paired against Norman.
The Butler right-hander retired the first five he faced before walking Jake Daniel with two out in the second. He then set down 15 straight before facing Austin Barney with two out in the 7th. The Trojan right-fielder, who had struck out in his previous two at bats, topped a slow roller up the third base line and beat it out, despite a valiant effort from Butler third baseman Burley.
Norman, who threw a no-hitter against Edgewood in his first varsity start on March 29th, said the hit was disappointing.
“Wish I could have that one back. I just had to look at the score, re-focus, and get that last out.”
Norman took a moment to compose himself, then struck out Alex Reidel to end it.
On the day, Norman walked one and struck out 12 and needed just 90 pitches to do it.
“He was really on,” said Butler’s veteran head coach Trent Dues. “He throws three pitches for strikes, he locates well and has some fantastic stuff. It’s too bad that’s the kind of hit they got. You don’t mind as much if it’s a line drive, but that’s baseball. Give Troy credit. Their guy pitched well, they played defense, but Craine got the big hit for us in the first and that was the difference in the ballgame.”
This story appears courtesy of the Press Pros Magazine
By Sonny Fulks
April 18, 2016
Troy – Vandalia Butler coach Trent Dues has paid his dues. He’s been there a long time, won a lot of games, seen a lot of good talent.
Still, he’s never broken through in Division I baseball, through the likes of Moeller, Lakoka, Elder, and the gauntlet you must cross if you want to get to Columbus and win the gold trophy. He’s been good a lot, mind you, but never quite good enough.
But Monday afternoon at Market Street Field in Troy Dues rolled out his latest edition, a juggernaut with a 12-0 mark through the season’s first month that at the halfway point of the season passes the eye test.
They’re senior laden…experienced.
They have four hitters at the top and middle of their lineup all hovering around the .400 mark.
And once again, in the tradition of past best…the Aviators have pitching and 6’4″ senior righthander Mitch Gremling punctuated that fact with a 5-hit, 11-strikeout performance in taming the homestanding Troy Trojans, 7-0.
Gremling was dominant, a big presence on the mound, twice striking out the side and limiting Troy to just two hits through the first five innings. A recruit to go to Wright State next year, his competitiveness eats up catchers as well as opposing hitters. On not the most efficient of days, he walked three, hit a batter, and peppered battery mate Noah Ballard repeatedly with breaking balls in the dirt.
“When I’m out there on the mound it’s like a whole ‘nuther world,” he said following his shutout. “It’s just me and the catcher.”
11 strikeouts, five hits and a shutout are a pretty big day, but Gremling shrugged it all off. “I’m just excited that we won,” he added.
It moved them to 13-0, the most talked about on the I-75 corridor, if not the best, but it doesn’t get Trent Dues all milky with anticipation or accolades for his unblemished record. The two teams meet again tomorrow in Vandalia at 5 pm.
“It’s a good group,” said Dues. “We’ve got a lot of guys returning and they’ve worked hard to get here. We’re playing well and we’ve got different guys stepping up every night.”
And a lot of ’em stepped up on Monday.
After seeing Troy lefthander Jared Bair once through the lineup, they teed off in the fifth scoring five times while benefiting from a couple of Troy mistakes. The big blow…a two-run double by first baseman Chandler Craine that provided more than enough margin for Gremling.
“We’ve gotten good pitching and we play good defense,” added Dues. “And that’s a good combination. We’ve got some good hitting at key spots and that helps. And, we’ve got some guys who are two and three-year players. But the key thing is that these guys all work hard. During off-season we rarely had guys miss.”
But the pitching! You never have enough, and even when you do you still don’t take it for granted.
“Mitch Gremling is kind of loose guy with three good pitches, a mid-80s guy, and if you can be around the plate that makes you a pretty effective high school pitcher. He holds runners well and when we play defense like we’ve played so far it makes things a lot easier.”
They made it look easy on Monday, but Troy, now 8-5, did not have it so easy, thanks to Gremling. Bair last through the fourth, threw a ton of pitches with what seemed one 3-2 count after another, and turned the ball over to reliever Nick Matney in the fifth, who surrendered two runs on four hits over the last three innings.
On Sunday afternoon, Butler made the hour long trek to Jack Adam Stadium in Elder’s Panther Athletic Complex and left with a 4-1 win, still unbeaten (8-0).
Because of weather, the game was postponed Saturday and the extra day only seemed to strengthen Butler’s starting pitcher, junior right-hander Zach Crawford, who mowed Elder (4-3) down, allowed two hits and one earned run in five and two-thirds innings of work.
“I thought our pitching was excellent, Crawford and (Braedon) Norman came in and closed,” said Butler coach Trent Dues. “(Crawford’s) a very good pitcher, he’s a junior and he’s a third-year varsity player. Norman’s a freshman but if you’d like to call it a seasoned freshman. He’s not afraid of the ball in big situations. We’re a pretty veteran team, most of our guys are returners so we’re not afraid of the big stage.
“I thought our defense was exceptional,” Dues added. “We got 10 hits, got a few bunts down and we got hits at the right time ... I thought our defense was exceptional. It was a very good win. Offensively, defensively and pitching.”
Conversely, Elder managed just three hits all day and failed to capitalize on a couple of solid scoring chances.
“Bottom line, you get three hits it’s gonna be tough to beat a good team,” said Elder coach Mark Thompson. “They swung the bats. They did a better job at the plate. They made adjustments and we didn’t. When we got the ball up (in the zone) they made us pay. When we got behind (in the count) they’re sitting dead red and they took advantage of it. We didn’t.”
After threatening in the first inning, Butler struck first with a two-run third inning. Elder senior starting pitcher Justin Ward walked the leadoff hitter, then senior Dusty Lewis singled and Tyler Burley laid down a sacrifice bunt to put runners at second and third with one out.
Junior Damon Dues, who went 3 for 4, plated the game’s first run with a line drive to left and a Ward wild pitch allowed another to cross.
Elder responded with its only run in the bottom of the third. Senior Alec Uhlorn, the nine-hole hitter, laced a double down the left field line, followed by a walk from junior Garren Messmore. Senior second baseman Brandon Vornhagen put the Panthers on the board with a RBI groundout.
The Aviators added two more runs in the fifth inning. After a leadoff walk and a groundout, Ward’s day was done as the Panthers elected to bring in left-hander Braden Connor who gave up a pair of quick hits before senior right-hander C.J. Gleason came on and remained on the bump for Elder the rest of the game. Matt Grossman gave Butler a 3-1 lead and Noah Ballard made it 4-1 with a RBI groundout.
“C.J. did a nice job and Justin did a nice job except for those two leadoffs walks (to start the third and fifth innings),” said Thompson. “Other than that (Justin) worked down in the zone and he was effective, too.
“Defensively we kept the double play in order and did nice job. We did those things but we just shot ourselves in the foot too many times.”
Elder’s best opportunity came in the bottom of the sixth and started with a leadoff single by Messmore. After consecutive strikeouts from Vornhagen and Frankie Hofmeyer, Josh Powell and Ryan Heckmuller each drew walks which loaded the bases and forced Butler to its bullpen, Norman for Crawford. At the same time, Elder made a pair of changes on the base path as Logan Cox replaced Powell and Brady Goins ran for Heckmuller.
With senior Matt Wall, who had worked a full count, at the plate, Norman caught Cox with a pick-off move at second base to neutralize the threat.
After its third loss in four games, Thompson said, “It’s learning. We’re trying to be patient because we don’t have much experience coming back. It’s time to grow up now. It’s time to get after it; they have to learn from their mistakes. That’s the point they have to get to, they have to understand what we’re teaching and not make the same mistake twice.”
Butler’s three remaining trips to Cincinnati are at St. Xavier, Moeller and Hamilton. The Aviators beat La Salle in their first trip here this season.
Vandalia Butler 4, Elder 1
Butler 002 020 0 -- 4 10 0
Elder 001 000 0 -- 1 3 0
W-Crawford (2-0); L-Ward. S-Norman. Leaders: B-Dues 3-4, RBI; Grossman 3-4, RBI. E-Uhlorn 2B, R; Vornhagen RBI. Records: B 8-0, E 4-3.
On a mission....it's a
statement that has been echoed the entire offseason. For the 2016 Aviators, the words are much
more than a slogan, they've become a credo through countless hours of physical
and mental preparation.
For head Coach Trent Dues, who enters his 22nd season at the helm, he couldn't ask for a better group of guys to go to battle with. "We have several players returning from last year, we also have a very difficult schedule so we will be challenged often throughout the season," said Dues. "I am anxious to see how we respond to the competition. We have a good chemistry group, as most of these guys have been playing together for a while."
Butler returns a full stable of arms, led by senior and Wright State signee Mitch Gremling. The right-handed Gremling is a four year starter and was 7-2 last season with a 2.53 ERA. Fellow seniors Carson Schumann and lefty Dalton Gaskins will also look to log a number of innings on the mound for Butler.
Junior returners on the mound include righty Zach Crawford who was 5-1 with a 3.50 ERA, Tyler Burley who was 5-0 with a 1.89 ERA and right-hander Gavin Kohler. Other pitchers who will be looking to contribute from the bump are freshman Braedon Norman along with juniors Dylan Welch and Nathan Stogdill.
Behind the plate, Noah Ballard (.237) returns for the Aviators. Ballard enters his senior season, after making a nice transition behind the plate last year, doing a solid job of receiving, blocking and throwing. Ballard threw out 9 of 15 would be stealers. According to Dues, "He is even more polished this year".
Junior Matt Grossman (.375) has been working hard to learn the tools of the trade behind the plate during the offseason and will provide depth. Senior Brody Dunlevy is battling a labrum injury, but is expected to help with the catching duties.
The Butler infield will be rich in experience, as all of last season's starters return. Junior shortstop and Wright State commit Damon Dues, led the team in a number of offensive categories in 2015, including batting average (.446), hits (45), OBP (.521), doubles (7) and quality at bats.
Junior third baseman Tyler Burley also provided a lot of offense, hitting .441 while leading the team in hits (45) and runs (36) . Senior second baseman Dusty Lewis hit .337 and broke the school record with 22 stolen bases. Senior first baseman Chandler Craine (.352) led the team in RBI's with 32 and doubles with 7.
Dues has been pleased with
what he has seen from his infielders during the offseason. "All four have worked hard to continuously
improve their skills both offensively and defensively," said Dues.
Additionally, Matt Grossman will provide another option at first while freshman Braedon Norman will give Butler flexibility at shortstop, second and third. Nathan Stogdill is also pushing for playing time at third and senior Torin Fletcher will provide depth across the entire infield.
The outfield returns a number of key players with experience. Senior Torin Fletcher will rely on his speed and athleticism to patrol centerfield. Fletcher provided a good bat (.362) and an errorless season in centerfield last year. Fellow senior Nic Martin (Army football commit) returns after suffering an eye injury that cost him a majority of the 2015 season. As a sophomore, Martin hit .418 and played a solid right field. Martin has worked hard to return to the form of that successful sophomore campaign.
There are several candidates vying for the third outfield spot. Junior Gavin Kohler, sophomore Logan Flatt, junior Dylan Welch, senior Dalton Gaskins along with Craine have the ability to play outfield.
Coming off of an incredible 22-6, 10-0 season the Aviators still believe that their best baseball is ahead of them. "We have a number of guys returning, but there are also several guys pushing these returners for playing time," said Dues. "It will be interesting."
When asked how to determine who plays with talent so abundant, Dues said, "The ability to hit, play defense and run the bases will determine a lot with the position players. The ability to throw strikes and locate, will determine who gets the innings on the mound."
It's undeniable that there is a certain buzz around this team and the "mission" that they are on. It's something that is not lost on Dues. "There is a lot of healthy competition going on which I like," said Dues. "The schedule is challenging, but I am looking forward to going to war with these guys."
VANDALIA — Butler's Tyler
Burley had a freshman year to forget, but he is making up for it in a big way
as a sophomore.
Burley, a 6-foot-1 right-hander, sat
out last season after tearing the labrum in his pitching shoulder in
“I expected it,” Burley said of his
breakout season. “I had a while to get recovered and work on things.”
Burley threw 5 1/3 innings of six-hit
baseball Tuesday to improve to 5-0 as Butler ran its winning streak to 14 with
a 9-3 win over Piqua at Butler High School. Butler, 8-0 in the Greater Western
Ohio Conference North Division, leads Troy by two games with three to play.
“I thought I would do better
pitching than I am,” said Burley, who has struck out 36 in 33 1/3 innings with
a 1.75 ERA. “But I am hitting a lot better than I thought I would.”
Burley went 0-for-4 against Piqua,
reaching on an error and stealing a base in the third inning. He leads the GWOC
in hitting with a .548 average and has 15 RBIs and 13 stolen bases. He is
second in wins and strikeouts.
“He is a big surprise,” Butler coach
Trent Dues said. “We didn’t know what we were going to get from him, but all
around he has been a huge boost. We knew he was good.”
“Sitting out last year was hard to
do,” Burley said. “But I looked at things and worked on what I needed to do
better when I came back. … I was nervous at first. I wasn’t throwing the ball
as hard as I could, but I got over it.”
Butler, meanwhile, overcame a 2-2
start and is on a roll heading into the final two weeks of the season and the
The winning streak has followed the
same good-pitching, small-ball recipe that has served the Aviators well in
making deep runs in the postseason in recent years. Butler has hit one home run
this season but has 18 doubles, three triples and has stolen 68 bases while
sporting a 2.71 ERA and .937 fielding percentage.
“We hit the ball where it’s pitched and move the runners,” Dues said. “We pitch well and we play good defense.”
VANDALIA - The last time the Aviators found themselves
bounced from the tournament after one game, they returned a year later to win a
District Championship. If Butler hopes to evoke the glory of the 2011
season, it's going to have to do so with an infusion of youth.
Butler will rely on a number of key newcomers along with the guidance of its battle tested veterans. For longtime Butler Head Coach Trent Dues the early season presents more questions than answers. " Time will tell as to who steps to the forefront, based on who swings the bat and can also fall into the puzzle defensively", said Dues.
For Butler, the preseason has been equally important for fine tuning the roster and shaking off the rust of a long and harsh mid-western winter.
Heading into the season, Butler's strength looked to be on the mound with returning pitchers senior Jacob Larger, sophomore Mitch Gremling and junior Alex Schulke. Unfortunately, all three are healing from injuries sustained in the offseason. "Hopefully they heal soon but, in the mean time we have several guys fighting for innings", stated Dues.
It will be a tall order, as Larger is coming off of a 6-2 season in which he was named an All-GWOC North first teamer with a 1.83 ERA. Additionally both Gremling and Schulke also garnered league honors, receiving Honorable Mention nods. While any missed time creates a void for the Aviators, it also opens the door for up and comers to get into the mix and establish themselves early.
Aviators working for those innings include, senior Mitch Hausfeld, All-GWOC Second Teamer, junior Alex Murphy, sophomores Garrett Fleming, Dalton Gaskins, Carson Schumann and Nic Martin. Additionally, newcomers Zach Crawford and Nathan Stogdill are two freshman vying for varsity innings on the mound.
plate, Butler returns junior Ben Slaton and senior Bret Bachman. Slaton will likely be getting the bulk of the
innings with Bachman serving as a viable number two.
infield, the Aviators are blessed with depth which is creating a plethora of
healthy competition. First base looks to
be a battle between sophomore Chandler Craine,
Bachman, Schumann and freshmen Matt Grossman.
working at second base are sophomore Dusty Lewis and Bret Bachman. Freshmen Damon Dues, the afore mentioned Lewis
and Alex Schulke will platoon shortstop for the Aviators. Both Fleming and Schulke are also preparing
for time at third base, holding down the hot corner.
Manning the outfield will be seniors Jacob Naas and Bryan
Myers, along with juniors Spencer Sarsgard, and Alex Murphy. Sophomore Nic Martin and freshman Matt
Grossman will also have their turns patrolling the outfield.
By Darrell Wacker Drummer Editor [email protected]
VANDALIA - Long-time Butler assistant baseball coach Steve Clark has been selected as the Assistant Coach of Year by the Miami Valley Baseball Coaches Association (MVBCA). Clark, who has been coaching at Butler since 1993, will receive the award at the MVBCA Hall of Fame Induction banquet on March 2.
“It is truly a great honor to be recognized by the MVBCA as Assistant Coach of the Year,” said Clark. “I am very fortunate to be part of such a top notch school and baseball program and to work with such great coaches and student athletes at Butler.”
Clark’s first job at Butler was as the coach of the first freshman team in school history. Clark moved up to varsity assistant in 1999 after six years coaching the freshman team.
During his 15 year stint as a varsity assistant, the Aviators have won or shared 12 league titles, won nine sectional championships, two district titles, and one regional title in 2000. Butler was also regional runner-up in 2011. The Aviators have a record of 315-140 with a winning percentage of .692.
“Former Butler coach Bob Costello gave me the opportunity to be part of the program 23 years ago as the freshmen coach and coach Trent Dues invited me to be a varsity assistant in 1999, so I am very appreciative to both of these great coaches,” said Clark.
Prior to coaching at Butler, Clark was the assistant varsity baseball coach at his alma mater, Valley High School in Lonaconing, Maryland from 1985-86 and then a volunteer assistant coach at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia from 1987-88.
Clark is a native of Barton, Maryland and played college baseball at Allegany College of Maryland before transferring to Frostburg State University. Professionally, Steve is the Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Vandalia and has been employed with the city for 25 years. Steve and his wife Melanie reside in Vandalia and are the parents of four children; daughters Peyton, Riley and Katy and son Carson.
“I consider myself a very lucky man as I am coaching the sport that I love, with a group of coaches that I admire, who share the love of the game with me, and I am supported by the people I love the most, my wife and children,” Clark said.
In a release, the MVBCA says that “the MVBCA Assistant Coach of the Year Award began in 2000. Assistant Coaches are an integral part of a baseball program helping the head coach in many areas that sometimes go unnoticed the most.”