Dayton got off to a good start thanks to a four-run first inning. The Dust Devils combined a trio of hits — two singles and a double — with a pair of walks and a Sparks error to inflict their first-inning damage.
The two teams settled in from there and traded zeros into the fifth. That’s when Dayton got a single run in the top of the inning to extend its edge to 5-0.
“That first inning was big for us,” Dayton coach Jay Merrell said. “It allowed our pitcher to settle down and our defense to play relaxed. That really helps you out.”
Sparks (1-3, 0-1) mustered its only offense of the game with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. Kirk Putman singled and Alex Medina walked. Back-to-back walks to Joe Christ and Joe Puccinelli forced in Putman. Andrew Garcia followed and laced a run-scoring single to plate Medina.
Dayton answered with a single score in the top of inning six and the Dust Devils nixed any hopes of a Sparks comeback by pushing across five runs in the seventh. The big hit in the inning was a two-run double with the bases loaded. Dayton took advantage of two walks and a Sparks error in the frame as well.
Kyle Farnworth, Conner Oliver, Houston Bentson and Jack Koch all had two hits and scored two runs for the Dust Devils.
Oliver was the winning pitcher for Dayton (5-0, 1-0). He worked six innings, striking out 11 while issuing three walks and scattering five Sparks hits.
“He located his pitches and changed speeds,” Sparks coach Greg Vasko said of Oliver’s performance. “He had a good fastball and then he was able to take some speed off his curveball. He threw well. He’s definitely ahead of the game right now”
The two teams resume their three-game conference series with a doubleheader Saturday that starts at 11 a.m. at Dayton.
- Softball -
•Dayton’s Kenzie Cole was too much for Sparks Wednesday. The Dust Devils senior right-hander struck out 12 in a complete-game 6-0 shutout victory at Sparks. The host Railroaders managed just one hit off the DHS ace, a fourth-inning single by Ally Tallman.
Katie Hippert drew a walk in the first and Amanda Mahon nabbed a free pass in the fifth. Both Sparks runners wound up advancing to third, but neither managed to cross the plate, keeping Cole’s shutout intact.
“I’d say she pitched real well and despite being a bit under the weather,” Dayton coach Daven Passalaqua said of Cole’s effort. “She sucked it up and did well. She had really good movement on her pitches.”
Dayton got single runs in the second and seventh innings, but also had two-run innings in the third and fifth to account for its offensive output. While it scored six runs, only one was earned.
The game was the fifth of the young spring season for Dayton (3-2, 1-0) but it was the season debut for Sparks .
“Everyone asked me why no preseason games, but with the ACTs and prom last weekend it just didn’t make sense,” Sparks coach Frank Avilla said. “For our first game, I’m very pleased. The mistakes we made, can be shored up … We’re right on track. We’ll be fine.”