Flyers baseball caps 4-game sweep of George Washington with offensive explosion on senior day

Flyers baseball seniors are recognized at Woerner Field before Saturday’s 14-9 win over the Colonials to finish the regular season. Photo courtesy of Peter Burtnett, Flyer News.

Peter Burtnett
Sports Editor

The Dayton Flyers baseball team closed the regular season with their bats on fire in a 14-9 win over George Washington on Senior Day Saturday at Woerner Field.

Before Saturday’s game, the Flyers recognized 16 seniors: Mariano Ricciardi, Tirotta, Benjamin Blackwell, Justin Longbrake, Mitchell Garrity, Michael Cleary, Chris Cabrera, Nolan Watson, R.J. Wagner, Tyler Jones, Jonathan Brus, Cole Pletka, Alex Brickman, Hunter Wolfe, Eddie Pursinger, and Ben Olson.

But the Colonials got right to business, scoring three runs in the top of the first, one on a single to left and two more on a double to straightaway right field. The Flyers loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom half of the inning, but only scored one on a ground out by Tirotta. 

In the bottom of the second inning, the Flyers loaded the bases again, scoring a run when Blackwell was hit by a pitch. With the bases still loaded and one out, junior first baseman Marcos Pujols unloaded the bases with a booming grand slam to right field. The Flyers kept pouring it on with a Tirotta double followed by a Cabrera single, scoring Tirotta from second to give the Flyers a 7-3 lead. 

“This group of hitters that we have is second to none,” senior third baseman Riley Tirotta said. “We were just keeping with our approach, just hitting the ball hard. I mean, it’s 17 hits and 14 runs shows the type of offense we have. And, so we were just locked in from the get go and put up one and six and the first two was, and I mean, that just, that takes the cake right there.”

The Colonials pulled one run back in the top of the fourth, but the Flyers responded with a run in the bottom half to hold onto a four-run lead.

Tirotta effectively put the game away when he launched a 3-run home run over the left-center field wall with 2 outs to give the Flyers an 11-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Tirotta closes the regular season batting .323 with 14 home runs and 54 RBIs.

“At the start of the year, I wanted to be one of the key guys on the team, and just do whatever it took to win,” Tirotta said.  “If that’s getting a big hit that, that’s what it is. If it’s getting a big play, in the field, it is what it is. But I’m doing well myself, but it doesn’t compare to what the team doing offensively, the type of guys that we have.”

Brickman made it even more out of doubt with a 2-run, opposite field home run to right field to stretch the lead to nine. His 2-homer game comes one day after his 3-run shot effectively clinched the Flyers’ appearance in the A10 tournament.

“I’ve always craved those big moments,” Brickman said. “It’s always something I’ve looked forward to and just stepping in the box and trying to stick to my approach. I look for something to drive, and fortunately they just keep giving me pitches to drive.”

The home runs by Brickman and Tirotta gave the Flyers their third and fourth innings of scoring 5+ runs over the weekend series.

“We got a really good offense,” manager Jayson King said. “I mean, I think we’ve had (one), it’s only gotten better and better as a year has gone on, but it’s always been pretty good… They’re hard to pitch to. And then you got guys that can hit the ball out, one through nine. It makes it doesn’t allow pitching to take a breath.”

Two errors allowed two runs to score for the Colonials in the top of the seventh, and one more scored on a ground out. Brickman homered for the second time, this one to straight away center field, but the Colonials struck back with a towering 2-run home run to right field to cut the deficit to 14-9. 

Although the Flyers pitchers allowed a Colonial to reach base in all nine innings, home runs from Alex Brickman (2), Riley Tirotta, and a grand slam for Marcos Pujols propelled UD to a win and 4-game sweep of GW.

The Flyers finish the regular season 22-25 and 12-4 in Atlantic 10 play.

“Yeah, it was a good day,” King said. “I think the last three days have been great days and I think today was a day that I like to call man’s days, when we got to show up when it’s not the easiest for you. And then, the game doesn’t have huge consequences. I think the guys did that. Plus it being on senior day with all the seniors that we have made it that much more special.”

“It feels great,” Tirotta said. “It’s pretty bittersweet. I’ve been here for four years and so playing at home for four years now, and finally getting one more win to take the series sweep. It’s very special, especially doing it like this. We have a great group of seniors, a whole bunch of us … It’s great to get a win here, the last time playing on your home field and  it’s awesome.”

UD already clinched an appearance in the A10 tournament with a win last night, and will begin play next Thursday in the double elimination, 4-team tournament. As players, Brickman and Tirotta both said they will be trying to keep their bodies in shape and put in the reps on the field and in the weight room.

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