Brandon Smith led Dayton baseball to a 7-4 win against the Hartford Hawks Saturday afternoon at Woerner Field.
Smith, a redshirt sophomore first baseman, collected three RBIs with a home run, triple and single. Senior pitcher Peter Rozman (0-0) got the start for the Flyers and did not allow a hit through three innings. Sophomore pitcher Jordan Cox (2-0) earned the win while sophomore Tyler Jones recorded the save, his first of the season.
In the bottom of the first, Smith hit a solo home run to centerfield to put the Flyers on the scoreboard early. The homer was his second first-inning shot in as many games for UD.
“It was really important [to get off to a good start]. The last couple of days the first defensive plays have been great plays,” said coach Jayson King.
“[Connor] Echols made a slide catch in the first game against Eastern Michigan. And the first play of this game the ball went off Rozman’s foot and then [Takahiro Yamada] made a nice running play, so it was important to get off to a quick start.”
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Junior infielder Pat Meehan hit a line shot single to center field in the bottom of the third. Sophomore outfielder Mitchell Garrity reached first on a fielder’s choice, advanced to second on a wild pitch and then stole third base. Smith drove in Garrity with a triple to deep right centerfield. Then, freshman Riley Tirotta singled to centerfield to drive in Smith to make it 3-0.
“I was just looking for balls I could drive,” Smith said. “I was struggling coming into this week. I was just trying to get back to hitting balls hard and on a line. I’ve been doing that in practice and I’m glad it carried over to the game.”
Hartford responded immediately with one run in the top of the fourth and another in the fifth to end Rozman’s start.
The Flyers responded as Meehan drew a walk to start the inning and was moved to second on a Garrity sacrifice bunt. Meehan stole third and was then driven in by Smith, to put Dayton up 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth.
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In the sixth, sophomore Josh Nixon took over on the mound, inheriting runners on the corners with one out. He struck out the first batter he faced, and the second flew out as the Flyers escaped the jam.
In the bottom of the seventh, Dayton added an insurance run. Tirotta grounded to second base and a Hartford error allowed Garrity to score.
Hartford scratched across two more runs in the eighth, when Jones entered to close out for the Flyers.
Jones benefited from two more insurance runs in the eighth. A single by junior catcher Bailey Montoya and a throwing error allowed two Flyers score for the 7-4 lead.
Jones retired the side to close out the game and seal the Flyers second home win at Woerner.
“[The win] came down to us competing as a team,” Smith said. “If we keep competing we will be just fine.”
Dayton faces Wright State across town on Sunday afternoon before returning home March 17 to take on Ball State at Woerner Field.
Photo Taken by Steve Miller/Sports Editor