Five takeaways from Dayton’s victory against Georgia State

Published: Sunday, December 17, 2017 @ 12:00 AM

Highlights of the Flyers overtime win Saturday night

Anthony Grant and Ron Hunter may have set a new standard for coaching hugs before their matchup at UD Arena.

Grant and Hunter embraced like guys who have known each for more than 30 years. They first faced off as players: Grant with the Dayton Flyers and Hunter with Miami University. Now they've coached against each other twice with Grant winning one game against Hunter and Georgia State when he was the head coach at Alabama and a second game Saturday in Dayton.

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Hunter's Panthers proved every bit as tough as Grant expected, rallying again and again before finally running out of steam in overtime. Dayton evened its record at 5-5 with an 88-83 victory.

"I'm happy to get the win tonight," Grant said. "I told the guys after the game I was happy for each one of them individually and for our team collectively. We battled. It was a game that went back and forth. Our guys had to go through some adversity and persevere. We stuck together and found a way to get enough stops and make enough free throws to pull out the victory."

Here are five takeaways from the 10th of 12 non-conference games Dayton will play before starting Atlantic 10 Conference play Dec. 30:

1. Josh Cunningham played at a high level: The redshirt junior forward Cunningham scored a career-high 29 points on 8-of-9 shooting. He made 13 of 17 free throws. He grabbed 18 rebounds.

Cunningham continued a dominant stretch of play that has seen him make 30 of 32 shots from the field. His field-goal percentage stands at 73.3 percent (63 of 86). He’s averaging 16.8 points and 10.6 rebounds. He had a double-double at halftime in this game: 15 points and 13 rebounds.

“His consistency is a great example to all the guys on our team, especially the younger guys,” Grant said. “I think any young man that has a chance to come out and watch him play, the way he competes, his maturity on the floor, the way he carries himself, his competitive character is really what it’s all about. He’s as good a competitor as I’ve been around.”

2. John Crosby returned to the starting lineup: The junior point guard lost his starting job to freshman Jalen Crutcher after the first six games. He played a total of 15 minutes against Auburn and Mississippi State. Now Crosby is again running the show and earning major minutes while Crutcher comes off the bench.

Crosby played 31 minutes to Crutcher's 13 in this game. Crosby had 11 points, seven assists and no turnovers. His no-look pass to Cunningham led to a dunk with 2:47 left in overtime after Georgia State had grabbed a 78-75 lead. Crosby also had the assist on the most important shot in overtime, a 3-pointer by Jordan Davis, who extended Dayton's lead to 82-78 with 1:09 to play.

"It's great to see that," Grant said. "I thought he did a really good job of running our team and doing the things we need him to do to help us."

3. The zone defense caused problems for Dayton: The Flyers made 10 of 32 3-pointers. They didn't plan to take that many shots from long range. The Flyers blew 10-point leads in both halves in part because of Georgia State's defense.

"The different defenses they threw at us from the 2-3 matchup to the 1-3-1 zone to the 3-2 matchup, they kept us thinking and kept us off balance in terms of what their plan of attack was," Grant said. "We had some lulls there because of their ability to change defense and be effective and take away some things we were having success with early."

Postgame interview: Dayton's Anthony Grant after beating Georgia State

4. Georgia State's star hit a big shot: Point guard D'Marcus Simonds sent the game to overtime by making a shot over Dayton's Darrell Davis with 2.3 seconds left.

"It was tough," Davis said. "He just made the shot. I couldn't do anything about it. He's a good player."

5. Foul trouble hurt Georgia State: Simonds picked up his fourth foul in the opening minute of the second half and didn't return to the game until the 9:04 mark. Another starter, Malik Benlevi, also battled foul trouble. He picked up three fouls in a 20-second span early in the second half.

The Chaminade Julienne graduate Hunter, whose team fell to 7-4, praised his team's effort despite the loss.

"I'm proud of my kids," he said. "That's a tough environment to play in. That's the best Dayton's played all year. We took their best shot, got down 10, got it to overtime. I'm happy with the way our kids played."

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Cincinnati Reds: Peraza more comfortable, confident at shortstop

Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 8:24 PM
Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 8:24 PM

            Reds shortstop Jose Peraza throws to first base for an out against the Cardinals on Thursday, April 12, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff
Reds shortstop Jose Peraza throws to first base for an out against the Cardinals on Thursday, April 12, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

One of the Reds’ many problems while losing 18 of their first 22 games was defense, especially around second base.

Jose Peraza, back at shortstop as the heir to 2017 All-Star Zack Cozart after losing his second base position to Scooter Gennett last season, had committed just one error in his first 21 games, but he seemed uncomfortable. Grounders that fans were used to see being caught instead were leaking through to the outfield.

»RELATED: Garrett untouchable in bullpen

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»MCCOY: What’s it like inside Reds clubhouse?

Recently, though, Peraza has shown signs that the more he plays, the more comfortable and confident he feels.

“I think he’s playing great,” Gennett said before Tuesday’s game against Atlanta. “He’s been playing that position with more confidence. After switching back and forth, I’m really impressed with how quickly he’s picked it back up again.”

Going into this season, Peraza had started 82 major league games at second back and 77 at shortstop.

Peraza, who turns only 24 on April 30, also was becoming more productive offensively. Going into Tuesday’s game, he had hit .292 since starting the season 0-for-12, pushing his overall average up to .247.

Interim manager Jim Riggleman credits Peraza’s defensive improvement to working with infield coach Freddie Benavides.

“He’s playing good,” Riggleman said of Peraza, acquired from the Dodgers as part of the December 2015 three-team trade in which third baseman Todd Frazier was sent to the White Sox. “He’s an extremely hard worker. I know Freddie’s had to tone him back a little bit. It’s a long season, but I think he’s played fine.”

Riggleman believes shortstops are at a disadvantage because they usually are compared to those who played at the highest level, such as Ozzie Smith or Omar Vizquel. In Cincinnati, shortstops follow in the footsteps of Roy McMillan and Leo Cardenas and Dave Concepcion and Barry Larkin.

“There’s such excellence that to call anybody average is an insult,” Riggleman said. “If you’re an average major league shortstop, you’re pretty good. He’s really swinging the bat and running the bases. He’s a baseball player.”

Deeper bench

Cincinnati’s five-man bench allowed Riggleman to make a move that proved decisive in Monday’s 10-4 win over the Braves.

With the bases loaded and nobody out in the sixth inning of a tie game, he sent right-handed-hitting Phil Gosselin up to bat against left-hander Sam Freeman. Braves’ manager Brian Snitker replaced Freeman with right-hander Peter Moylan, prompting Riggleman to take down Gosselin and send up left-hander Jesse Winker, who delivered a tie-breaking, run-scoring single.

“The sixth inning is a little earlier than I’d like to do it, but with five players on the bench, it’s easier than with four,” Riggleman said. “With four players, it’s really tough, especially if one of them is a catcher. That makes it tough to maneuver for the rest of the game.”

New tools

Tucker Barnhart didn’t have anybody particular in mind as he banged a black Rawlings catcher’s mitt with a bat on the floor in front of his Great American Ball Park home clubhouse cubicle.

The Reds catcher simply was going through the process of breaking in a couple of new gloves. The process is lengthy.

“This one I started on in January and all through spring training,” he said, holding up a third black glove. “I’m hoping it’ll last me close to two years. Rawlings has pretty good leather.”

That means the new gloves might not see the field until 2019.

Barnhart uses a leather conditioner to help with the breaking in process, which also includes him flexing the glove with his hands.

“It’s getting there,” he said.

Bare hand

Sal Romano’s right hand was sore on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after he speared Ozzie Albies’ sharp one-hopper with his bare hand and threw him out at first.

Romano’s approach is not recommended.

“We literally talk about it in spring training,” Riggleman said. “The thing is, with the way shifts are, if you let it go, there’s probably going to be a middle infielder there, but its competition. It’s instinct. What you don’t want to have happen is he doesn’t get all of it and it dribbles off into no-man’s land.”

Trading Kevins: Before Tuesday’s game, the Reds reinstated right-hander Kevin Schackelford from the 10-day disabled list and designated right-hander Kevin Quackenbush for assignment, leaving the 40-man roster at 39. Schackelford was sidelined since March 29 with a right forearm strain. Quackenbush was 0-1 with an 11.00 earned-run average in 10 games.

Next up

Left-hander Brandon Finnegan (0-2) is scheduled to make his third start since coming off the disabled list in Wednesday’s 6:40 p.m. game against Atlanta. Finnegan is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in two career games, both of them starts, against the Braves.

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Gennett’s walk-off homer lifts Reds to second straight win over Braves

Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 11:14 PM

            Scooter Gennett hit a pair of home runs Tuesday night to lift the Reds past the Braves. GETTY IMAGES
Scooter Gennett hit a pair of home runs Tuesday night to lift the Reds past the Braves. GETTY IMAGES

Second baseman Scooter Gennett picked the perfect time to locate his power stroke.

Gennett’s second home run of the game – and the season – helped the Reds overcome a bullpen meltdown and pull out a 9-7, 12-inning win over the Atlanta Braves before a crowd of 14,139 pizza-appreciating fans at Great American Ball Park.

The recently reliable Reds bullpen faltered mightily in Tuesday’s game against the Braves, but Joey Votto walked to lead off the 12th andset up Gennett’s first career walkoff home run, adding to a night of firsts for him. Earlier, he contributed what he said was his first major league suicide squeeze.

“Not many guys have a game where they have a suicide squeeze and two home runs,” interim manager Jim Riggleman observed.

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»MCCOY: What’s it like inside Reds clubhouse?

Left-hander Amir Garrett and right-hander Raisel Iglesias teamed up to blow a ninth-inning, four-run lead, but Jared Hughes (1-2) pitched 2 2-3 innings of scoreless relief to get his first win as a Red.

The Braves’ rally started with first baseman Freddie Freeman’s second homer of the game. Center fielder Ender Inciarte capped the comeback with a two-run infield single on a blistering one-hopper that Gennett couldn’t shorthop, handing Iglesias his first blown save in four opportunities this season.

“It’s the least I could do after messing that one play up,” Gennett said. “That’s a situation where I’m trying to get one up and out over the plate. For a second, I thought it wasn’t going to go out. I thought (right fielder Nick) Markakis was going to climb the wall.”

The game was the fifth of the young season in which Atlanta overcame a deficit in the eighth inning or later.

“You had a bad feeling once Atlanta came back,” Riggleman said. “I give our guys tremendous credit. This is a game of heartbreak sometimes, and it looked like it was going to be one of those nights for us.”

The bullpen had compiled a combined 2.81 earned-run average over the previous 10 games before Tuesday’s collapse.

The Braves comeback cost Tyler Mahle his second win of the season. Mahle, in his fifth start of the season and ninth of his career, turned in six no-hit innings against the team that went into the game leading the National League in scoring.

Mahle, who’s pitched two minor league no-hitters, was pretty sure he wasn’t going add one in the majors on Tuesday.

“It felt about the same, but I had more pitches,” he said. “I could’ve gone seven, but I don’t think I could’ve gone nine.”

That doesn’t mean wasn’t thinking about it.

“It’s always in the back of your mind a little bit,” he said.

The 23-year-old, whose previous single-game career high in strikeouts was seven, had 11 through six innings before Freeman launched a no-doubt home run deep into the right-field seats on Mahle’s 90thpitch to lead off the seventh inning. Markakis doubled and catcher Kurt Suzuki homered into the left field seats to knock Mahle out of the game.

Eleven strikeouts gets ticket holders free pizzas at local LaRosa’s.

Coupled with their 10-4 win on Monday, the Reds have back-to-back victories for the first time since beating Pittsburgh last Sept. 16-17, a span of 34 games, and allowed them to avoid posting the single-worst 23-game start in franchise history. They are 5-18, matching the 1931 and 1934 teams’ records through 23 games.

Tuesday’s followup was better for the Reds than the last time they logged a 10-4 win. That was on April 16 – also a Monday – in Milwaukee, which they followed with two 2-0 losses. Mahle started the second shutout loss.

Catcher Devin Mesoraco was scratched from manager Jim Riggleman’s original starting lineup after developing a stiff neck. Tucker Barnhart stepped in and delivered an RBI single in the seventh.

Mahle helped get Cincinnati’s scoring started in the three-run second inning. He came up with the bases loaded and one out and hit a chopper up the first base line that Freeman fielded cleanly, but Suzuki had to jump to catch Freeman’s thrown and he came down with his feet off the plate for a throwing error.

After a lengthy delay, Atlanta manager Brian Snitker put his hands to his ears, indicating he wanted a replay review, but crew chief Fieldin Culbreth denied the request, most likely because Snitker took too much time.

Billy Hamilton followed with one-hopper back to pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who dropped the ball and threw too late to get Hamilton at first while Barnhart crossed the plate. Jesse Winker’s sacrifice fly gave the Reds a 3-0 lead.

Votto and Gennett teamed up for their first home runs of the season with two outs in the fifth inning. Votto’s reached the first row of seats in left-center field, while Gennett’s line-hugger caromed off the right-field foul pole.

Gennett, who had five hits in his last 31 at bats, and rookie third baseman Alex Blandino each finished with two hits, and Gennett drove in Philip Ervin with a deft suicide squeeze in the seventh.

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Sports Today: Reds get some managerial magic for at least one night

Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 9:50 AM

CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 23: Scott Schebler #43 of the Cincinnati Reds singles to drive in a run in the eighth inning of a game against the Atlanta Braves at Great American Ball Park on April 23, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds won 10-4. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 23: Scott Schebler #43 of the Cincinnati Reds singles to drive in a run in the eighth inning of a game against the Atlanta Braves at Great American Ball Park on April 23, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds won 10-4. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Chalk one up for Jim Riggleman. 

The interim manager of the Cincinnati Reds moved Scott Schebler up to the leadoff spot, and the offense promptly exploded for 10 runs in a victory over the Braves

Schebler was a big part of it, going 2 fo 5 with three RBIs and three runs scored. 

He hit the first Reds home run in a week and made Riggleman look pretty smart. 

Not that I get the impression that was what the skipper was really going for: 

“We’re 3-and-whatever we are,” Riggleman said before the game. “We’ve got to try anything.”

Sometimes managerial magic is interchangeable with luck, and I think we can all agree “anything” is better than the first three weeks of the season for the Reds. 

Riggleman also sounds committed to batting Billy Hamilton ninth until he starts to look like a real major-league hitter, so I guess we can rule out the second coming of Dusty Baker here (old-school baseball man who insists on speed at the top of the lineup regardless of on-base percentage). 

It is amazing how quickly this became a put-up-or-ship-out season for Hamilton, who apparently could have been traded in December and now may have a lot less value after a bad spring and worse start to the regular season. 

Sal Romano pitched six good innings, striking out five and allowing only one earned run, to get his first win of the season. 

More good news: Eugenio Suarez should be back in a Reds uniform soon. The third baseman is scheduled to play in Triple-A for Louisville tonight on a rehab assignment for his fractured thumb. 

It’s probably too late to salvage a .500 record this season, but the Reds offense should look a heck of a lot better with Suarez and Schebler back in the lineup. 

At least management should still get a chance to sort out which of the guys in the majors deserve to be in Cincinnati long term and who can be moved out to make room for youngsters moving up in the improved farm system. 

There was some bad news, though. 

Hunter Greene was knocked around as the Dayton Dragons lost their third straight game. 

The Reds’ most-recent first-round pick took his first loss of the season after failing to get out of the first inning. 

He allowed seven runs, including a grand slam, and recorded only two outs. 

Greene walked three and gave up four hits. 

For what it’s worth, three of the runs charged to Greene scored with Austin Orewiler on the mound in relief. 

I mention that because Greene showed a knack for getting out of trouble in his first two starts. 

If you’re keeping score, he’s gone from great to average to pretty bad in three times out for Dayton. 

PREVIOUSLY: Greene battles elements in second start

Bumps in the road were always to be expected, of course, especially for such a young fella. 

It will be interesting to see how he bounces back and how quickly he can develop a game plan for hitters who are willing to wait for his fastball and can lay off his breaking stuff. 

The Dragons are the definition of streaky so far, having lost three in a row to start the season, won nine and now lost three more in a row… 

Dayton Flyers basketball made news Monday, too, as one player announced he is joining up and another announced where he is going next. 

Frank Policelli, a 6-foot-8 forward from Long Island, will be eligible to help Anthony Grant’s team this fall after verbally committed Monday

He is a three-star top 300 recruit in the 2018 class who played AAU ball with current Flyer Obadiah Toppin. 

» RELATED: Transfer from Vanderbilt joining Dayton women’s program

Meanwhile, Xeyrius Williams revealed he plans to continue his college basketball career at Akron

The former Wayne High School star was a starter two seasons ago but opted to transfer after an injury-plagued junior season. 

At 6-9 with the ability to shoot the three, he could be a force in the MAC -- but not until 2019-20. 

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Former Flyers forward Williams picks new school

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 5:02 PM

Dayton’s Xeyrius Williams reacts after making the go-ahead 3-pointer against Rhode Island with 10 seconds left on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, at the Ryan Center in Kingston, R.I. David Jablonski/Staff
Staff Writer
Dayton’s Xeyrius Williams reacts after making the go-ahead 3-pointer against Rhode Island with 10 seconds left on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, at the Ryan Center in Kingston, R.I. David Jablonski/Staff(Staff Writer)

Former Dayton Flyers forward Xeyrius Williams will play his final season of college basketball at the University of Akron.

The Wayne High School graduate Williams announced his decision Monday. He will have to sit out the 2018-19 season and will finish his career with the Zips in the 2019-20 season. In posts to Twitter and Instagram, Williams thanked the Dayton fans who watched him play the last three seasons.

» RELATED: Transfer from Vanderbilt joining Dayton women’s program

“You guys have been there through the ups and downs,” Williams wrote. “I also want to thank all the people, managers, coaches and especially my teammates/brothers who I had the opportunity to play alongside. You guys have all influenced my life in a positive way, and I’ll always cherish the brotherhood and the memories we made as a team.”

Williams also visited Kent State, according to his Instagram account.

Williams announced March 13 he was leaving Dayton. He was one of five underclassmen to leave the program. He appeared in 18 games last season, averaging 5.0 points and 3.1 rebounds as the Flyers finished 14-17. He had a breakout year as a sophomore, averaging 8.2 points and 4.8 rebounds.

» RELATED: Josh Cunningham named Dayton’s MVP

The season did not go as planned. Williams started the season in the starting lineup and played 34-plus minutes in each of the first four games, averaging 11.3 points. Then he missed the next five games with a back injury.

Akron was 14-18 last season, the first for head coach John Groce. That ended a streak of 12 straight 20-win seasons. Trotwood-Madison grad Torrey Patton played for Akron last season as a freshman but announced he was transferring earlier this month.

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