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Dear Dayton Flyers seniors: Here’s what you’ve meant to us

Published: Wednesday, March 15, 2017 @ 10:08 AM
Updated: Wednesday, March 15, 2017 @ 10:06 AM

WATCH: Highlights from Senior Night ceremony at UD Arena on March 1, 2017.

Dear Flyer seniors,

My WHIO radio partner Bucky Bockhorn and I have had a front-row seat to watch you on the court the last four years and access off the court to get to know you better than the average fan and other members of the media.

RELATED: Dayton Flyers tournament special on WHIO-TV, WHIO radio

ARCHIE MILLER: Seniors cornerstone of Flyers program

As you prepare to enter your final days in a Flyer uniform, we thank you for what you have given us, the fans, the University of Dayton and the community.

Jeremiah Bonsu

Dayton players (left to right: Joey Gruden, Jeremiah Bonsu, Michael Schwieterman and Jack Westerfield) watch from the bench during a game against Richmond on Tuesday, March 1, 2016, at the Robins Center in Richmond, Va. David Jablonski/Staff(Staff Writer)

Your dream was to play college basketball, but Archie Miller is not a genie granting wishes. The only reason he gave you a uniform is because he thought you could make the team better. You did. Not everyone saw the work you put in during practice or heard the encouragement and instruction you passed along during games, but the record of this team speaks to that. Your desire for greatness, balanced by your humility, will take you far in life.

ARCHDEACON ON BONSU: ‘They call me love’

Charles Cooke

Dayton’s Charles Cooke, right, drives against Vanderbilt’s Jeff Roberson on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

You came to Dayton to become a better player on a bigger stage. The work you put in during the year you sat out, laid the foundation for you to be an all-conference performer. But not only did you become a better player, you became a better teammate. You impacted games by doing so much more than scoring. You stuffed the stat sheet with assists, rebounds, blocks and steals. You will make a lot of money playing basketball in the future, but I dare to say your fondest memories will be as a Flyer.

RELATED: Cooke makes big impact in two years with Flyers

Kendall Pollard

Kendall Pollard celebrates a basket against Rhode Island’s Hassan Martin with just over two minutes to play Friday in Kingston, R.I. David Jablonski/Staff(Staff Writer)

You are fearless. People in Chicago told you not to come to Dayton, but you followed your heart and your head. You were your own man making that decision and in your playing career. Your energy level impacted this team on a daily basis. Not only were the Flyers better with you on the court on game day but every day in practice. Your body betrayed you at times, but we never heard you complain.

Our favorite memory will be those moments when you would get a defensive rebound, and we knew — everyone in the arena knew — that you were going to take the ball 94 feet to the rim. You usually scored, but when you didn’t or got called for a charge, it never kept you from going again.

RELATED: Pollard playing at high level for Dayton

Kyle Davis

Dayton’s Kyle Davis scores against Duquesne on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff(Staff Writer)

You may be the toughest player that we can recall being around. Toughness is not just a physical trait, and you are physically tough, but you showed the mental toughness to be a great competitor. No stat sheet will ever define your impact. You didn’t hit lots of shots, only big ones. You took on the toughest defensive assignments, smiling the whole time while you drove an opponent crazy. Bucky has always said you were the heart and soul of this team and I totally agree. Your leadership skills will make you, and those around you, winners for years to come.

RELATED: Davis has had ‘career-best year’ for Flyers

Scoochie Smith

Dayton's Scoochie Smith shoots against Saint Mary's on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff(David Jablonski)

You came to Dayton with a nickname that grabbed people’s attention, but you will leave having made a name for yourself in the rich tradition of Flyer basketball. You never missed a game and we are pretty sure you only missed one practice. Surrounded by more openly emotional guys, you were a calming force on the floor and practice. Your scoring and assists puts you in elite company at UD. You may be the best layup shooter we have ever seen, finding ways to kiss the ball off the glass in traffic with either hand.

RELATED: 5 things to know about Scoochie Smith

And we won’t remember you for your celebrations after hitting a big 3. We will remember the fact that you would always rise to the occasion to take the big shot.

PHOTOS: Senior night with the Flyers

We will miss you all, but are happy for the future you have ahead of you.

Your friends,

Larry and Bucky

Gene Bennett: The scout of all scouts

Published: Friday, August 18, 2017 @ 10:21 AM

If ever there was a bad word uttered about Gene Bennett, I have never heard of the person who said it.

Bennett was not only an icon as a baseball scout, he was even more of an icon as a person.

Some of the best times of my baseball life were when Gene Bennett called me, which was often during the winter, and we talked baseball for an hour-and-a-half.

It seemed like five minutes because time stood still during those wonderful conversations.

My phone won’t ring this winter with the greeting, “How is my favorite baseball writer?” Gene Bennett, 89, died Wednesday in Portsmouth, where he was THE legend among legends.

I first met Bennett when he was a basketball official and worked games at the old University of Dayton Fieldhouse when Tom Blackburn was coach and later for Don Donoher during the embryonic period of UD Arena. He would stop by the press table during timeouts and talk baseball.

One of the best compliments I ever received came from Bennett. We talked often during his 60 years as a scout for the Reds and a member of the front office.

He would say, “I can tell you anything off the record and know it won’t appear in the paper. I can trust you.” And he told me many, many things that would make a great story but might get him in trouble if I wrote it. I never did.

Among many, many good players he signed for the Reds was Don Gullett, Barry Larkin, Paul O’Neill, Chris Sabo and Charlie Leibrandt.

He signed Gullett after watching a high school game during which Gullett struck out 20 of 21 batters in a seven-inning game. The other guy? He tried to bunt and Gullett threw him out for a perfect game.

He convinced the Reds to draft Barry Larkin when most of the front office people wanted to draft somebody else.

But the one that got away was one that hurt him most. Bennett was at a tryout camp in Michigan when he saw a kid playing shortstop, wearing a Reds cap.

He told the kid, “We already have a great shortstop, name of Barry Larkin.” The kid looked at him and said, “I can play anywhere, Mr. Bennett. I can play center field.” And he went out and played center field at the tryout like Eric Davis.

The kid’s name was Derek Jeter and Bennett pleaded with the Reds to draft him. They didn’t. They drafted a big, strong kid named Chad Mottola and one of the scouts said, “This kid can whip a bear with a switch.”

But he couldn’t hit a baseball with a bat and everybody knows what happened with Derek Jeter.

Bennett lived in Wheelersburg, Ohio, not far from Portsmouth and there is a baseball complex in Wheelersburg named after him.

Every year Bennett was the driving force behind a baseball banquet in Portsmouth, an event to raise money for the upkeep of the famous murals on the Ohio River flood wall in Portsmouth. In fact, Bennett’s likeness is on that wall.

Nearly 300 people show up every year for the dinner, including a plethora of baseball personalities like Don Gullett, Tom Browning, Al Oliver, Larry Hisle, Gene Tenace, Johnny Lemaster, umpire Greg Gipson, Ron Nischwitz and always a large contingent from the Reds front office.

They introduce all the celebrities and Bennett was always the last introduced and he received a standing ovation, every time. Nobody else did.

I was fortunate to have Bennett ask me to be the keynote speaker a few years ago. Afterwards, Bennett said, “You should put away that pen and pad and become a speaker.” That was Gene Bennett. It could have been the worst speech ever given, and it might have been, but he would find something nice to say.

The last time I saw Gene was at a Reds game early this summer. He was in a wheel chair, but he was in his element and his face glowed. The folks with him called me aside and said, “He doesn’t have much time.” I went back to my press box seat and cried.

If there is a heaven, there is more entertaining baseball talk going on than ever before and it will be Gene Bennett holding court, wearing a Cincinnati Reds cap.

 

 

Reds score big in 13-10 win over Cubs

Published: Friday, August 18, 2017 @ 9:00 AM

Cincinnati Reds right fielder Phillip Ervin, front, is doused with an ice bath by pitcher Sal Romano, left, after their 13-10 win in a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Chicago. Ervin hit a two-run homer to snap a tie in the seventh inning and had four RBIs in his first major league start.
AP Photo/David Banks
Cincinnati Reds right fielder Phillip Ervin, front, is doused with an ice bath by pitcher Sal Romano, left, after their 13-10 win in a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Chicago. Ervin hit a two-run homer to snap a tie in the seventh inning and had four RBIs in his first major league start.(AP Photo/David Banks)

The Reds’ 13-10 win over the Cubs on Thursday had no shortage of fireworks.

  • Cincinnati scored nine runs in an inning for the first time since tagging Detroit for 10 runs in the sixth inning of a 12-5 win on Aug. 24, 2015.
  • The Reds blew a nine-run lead. The team last did that on Aug. 25, 2010, at San Francisco; a game it also rallied to win, 12-11. Cincinnati also blew such a lead on April 28, 2004, losing to Milwaukee 10-9.
  • Outfielder Phillip Ervin fell a triple shy of the cycle in his first ever start (fifth career game). He’s homered in back-to-back days.
  • Ervin and Eugenio Suarez were the first Reds teammates to record two hits in an inning since Steve Selsky and Tucker Barnhard did so last Sept. 26 in St. Louis.
  • Cincinnati gave up six homers, tying a season high (June 29 against Milwaukee). It’s served up 205 long balls on the year.
  • The Reds’ team ERA is 5.30, worst in the majors by a large margin (Braves are second-worst at 4.77).
  • Starter Scott Feldman gave up four home runs in an inning, tying a team record for most in a frame. He saw five balls leave the yard total, also tying a team-high mark.

VIDEO: Reds’ Phillip Ervin does it all in 13-10 win over Cubs

Published: Friday, August 18, 2017 @ 8:00 AM

Cincinnati Reds right fielder Phillip Ervin, front, is doused with an ice bath by pitcher Sal Romano, left, after their 13-10 win in a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Chicago. Ervin hit a two-run homer to snap a tie in the seventh inning and had four RBIs in his first major league start.
AP Photo/David Banks
Cincinnati Reds right fielder Phillip Ervin, front, is doused with an ice bath by pitcher Sal Romano, left, after their 13-10 win in a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Chicago. Ervin hit a two-run homer to snap a tie in the seventh inning and had four RBIs in his first major league start.(AP Photo/David Banks)

After homering for his first career hit Wednesday, Phillip Ervin’s encore was even better.

Ervin hit a two-run, tie-breaking home run and added four RBIs in his first start, emerging as the difference in the Reds’ 13-10 shootout victory against the Cubs.

It was the 25-year-old’s fifth game. He also had a single and double in his four at-bats. He even stole a base. 



Dragons continue to have West Michigan’s number

Published: Thursday, August 17, 2017 @ 10:33 PM


            Jose Siri of the Dayton Dragons steals second in the eighth inning against the West Michigan Whitecaps on Thursday night at Fifth Third Field. BRIAN SWARTZ / CONTRIBUTED
Jose Siri of the Dayton Dragons steals second in the eighth inning against the West Michigan Whitecaps on Thursday night at Fifth Third Field. BRIAN SWARTZ / CONTRIBUTED

West Michigan may have the Midwest League’s best record, but you couldn’t blame the Whitecaps if a little doubt started to set in.

Dayton pitchers Scott Moss and Tony Santillan would be the reason, because it’s likely they’ll face the Whitecaps in the first two games of the MWL playoffs, which begin at Fifth Third Field on Sept. 6.

Santillan (7-7, 3.56 ERA) worked five innings, allowed one run, struck out nine, walked three and allowed four hits in the Dragons’ 3-1 home win Thursday.

Together, Santillan and Moss combined to allow one run while striking out 14 in 10 innings during the final two games of the series. The Whitecaps lost back-to-back to the same opponent for the first time since mid-April.

Santillan’s biggest test came in the fifth, when he allowed consecutive singles to start the inning. With runners on first and second, and no outs, Santillan rebounded by striking out the side.

“That’s huge for him to come out of a tough situation and he can keep his composure out there and his emotions under control,” manager Luis Bolivar said. “He did it great, he came out of that inning and it was huge.”

Game changer: Lady Luck helped Dayton in the second when DH John Sansone hit a one-out grounder up the middle that pitcher Anthony Castro got a glove on. The change in trajectory forced second baseman Chad Sedio to hurry his throw to Danny Pinero, who couldn’t pick the ball out of the dirt.

Hector Vargas doubled into the right-field corner to bring Sansone around. Carlos Rivero then singled, moving Vargas to third. Next, Randy Ventura’s high chopper to third lingered in the air so long, the third baseman was left with no time to make a play, scoring Vargas and giving the Dragons a 2-0 lead.

Dragons tales: It’s been a historic season for the Dragons with the club earning its first postseason berth since 2011 and Jose Siri breaking the Midwest League record for consecutive games with a hit.

Left fielder Taylor Trammell recently joined the fun when he became the sixth player in Dragons history to hit 10 homers and steal 20 bases in a season. Siri accomplished the feat earlier this season, and Bolivar achieved the milestone as a player in 2004.

Trammell entered Thursday tied for second in the MWL in RBIs (66) and stolen bases (33), third in hits (124), fifth in total bases (196), and eighth is batting average (.285).

The first-round competitive balance pick of the Reds in 2016 is living up to his draft status.

Trammell’s always working on his game, because if you’ve got nothing to work on, you won’t get better, he said. Two skills he’s seen improve this season include his aggressiveness at the plate and his defense.

“I worked with the rovers that came here, Eric Davis and Barry Larkin and a few other guys and my hitting coach, Daryle Ward,” he said. “And also, being out in the outfield, learning reads off the bat from left field. That’s tough … just reads off the bat, because guys are hitting the ball harder this year, a little faster, you’ve got to prepare … and make the right jumps.”

On deck: Andrew Jordan (5-7, 4.60) starts for the Dragons in the first of a four-game series at Lake County. Zach Plesac (0-0, 1.13) takes the mound for the Captains.