A Top ten upset for the FlyBoys

Pictured is Graduate Student Nolan Watson at the Flyers’ 2023 Day Air Ballpark Game. Photo courtesy of Keegan Gupta for Flyer News.

Clare Mathews | Sports Editor

An action-packed top of the eighth was the difference-maker for the FlyBoys as they overcame a 4 run deficit to beat the No. 6 Vanderbilt Commodores 8-5.

The Flyers had just come off a 2-1 home series hosting the Lindenwood Lions. The Flyers took the first two games 4-2 and 6-3, and fell to the Lions after a three-run top of the ninth edged Lindenwood up by a run, 6-5, in the final game of the weekend. The heartbreaker of a finish to the series must have been a big motivator for the Flyers as they hit the road to take on a strong Vanderbilt squad just two days later.

Dayton Flyers Baseball went down to Nashville, TN to face the historically successful Vanderbilt Commodores for their first away game of the season on Feb. 20. It was a perfect night for baseball with clear conditions and a brisk 63 degrees. Hawkins Field, home of the “VandyBoys”, was packed with upwards of 3,000 attendees, both Flyers and ‘Dores fans.

The first three innings were scoreless for both teams. Ryan Steinhauer started on the mound for the FlyBoys and he recorded six strikeouts in his four innings of pitching. The Commodores were able to get in some runs in the bottom of the fourth giving them an advantage of 3 runs going into the fifth.

A new addition to the FlyBoys this season, Sophomore Alejandro Cazorla, hit an absolute bomb of a homer to left field, getting the Flyers on the board in the top of the fifth. The Commodores were able to get two more runners home off of wild pitches in the bottom of the sixth, making the score 5-1, going into the eighth inning after a scoreless seventh. 

Cazorla got the momentum going for the Flyers in the top of the eighth when he singled to right field and then advanced to second off a wild pitch. Graduate Student Omar Daniels walked, followed by another walk by Sophomore (and former Vanderbilt Commodore!) Ivan Arias. Junior David Pedanou then walked as well, which sent Arias to second, Daniels to third, and Cazorla home. Junior Mason Dobie hit a rocket to right center which bounced over the fence. He doubled while Pedanou went to third, and Daniels and Arias scored. Pedanou tied the score when he went home off a wild pitch. Dobie headed to third in that same play.

With the score evened 5-5, Freshman David Mendez walked. Freshman Chris Carroll pinch ran for Mendez heading to second, when Freshman Ryan MacDougall, who is having a killer start to his rookie season, singled to right field. MacDougall’s single sent Dobie home, which put the Flyers in the lead.

Cazorla, already having a great game, was back up to the plate and he doubled, sending both MacDougall and Carroll home, increasing the Flyers lead with the sixth and seventh runs of the inning.

It cannot go unmentioned that Dayton pitching had a solid day limiting the runs of aggressive Vanderbilt batters. In total, the Flyboys had 14 strikeouts which included one for Graduate Student Anthony Hattrup and three for Senior Austin Brush. 

Senior and hometown-kid, Nick Wissman, came in clutch for the Flyers in the final 2.1 innings. He got four strikeouts and didn’t allow any runs when the pressure was on at Hawkins Field. The final score was 8-5, securing the Flyers a huge win for their resume early in the season. This game allowed the Flyers to prove they aren’t to be doubted this coming season with several veterans, rookies, and transfers playing great games.

This win over No. 6 Vanderbilt was Head Coach Jayson King’s first ranked win. This was also the Flyers first win over a ranked opponent since 2007 and first win over a Top 10 opponent since 1996!

The FlyBoys play next this coming Friday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in their first game of a series against No. 1-ranked Wake Forest. Although unanimously top-ranked Wake Forest will obviously be a challenging opponent, the Flyers have shown their toughness and persistence over their first four games in this 2024 season. After all, anything can happen in college baseball. 

Moral of the story: the FlyBoys are legit!

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