Division I Team Of The Week: Week 6 - Vandalia-Butler


Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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Division I Team Of The Week: Week 6 - Vandalia-Butler

VANDALIA - A 15-game winning streak for Vandalia-Butler, capped off by a 3-2 victory over the state’s top-ranked team, has the Aviators standing at 25-2 on the season and this week’s Prep Baseball Report Division I Team of the Week.

“We got good pitching from Kaden Echeman, who threw a four-hitter, and we played errorless baseball,” head coach Trent Dues said of the win over Olentangy Orange on Saturday. “We had enough offense to scrape by.”

Shutouts over Xenia (10-0) and Franklin (7-0) along with a 3-1 triumph over Elder opened the week for Vandalia-Butler, whose lone losses during the year have come to Troy and Beavercreek.

“We’ve had a good season,” Dues noted. “We’ve got some talented guys. Having three D-I guys helps.”

One is Quinton Hall, an Eastern Kentucky commit ranked 13th in the state among senior southpaws. Hall, who threw a six-hitter against Elder after combining with Cason Bennett to shut out Xenia in a five-inning run-rule contest, is 10-1 on the season with a 0.69 ERA, fanning 82 in 50.2 innings while adding a .363 batting average.

The other two Division I commits are Boston Smith, the top-rated senior catcher in Ohio who is headed to Cincinnati, and Carson Clark, the 31st-ranked 2021 shortstop in the state who is a Mt. St. Mary's commit. The left-handed hitting Clark leads the team in batting average at .637 while Smith is hitting .402. 

Echeman, a LakeLand Junior College commit ranked 74th among senior right-handed pitchers in the state, is hitting .438 while posting an 8-0 record on the mound, fanning 66 in 45 innings with a 0.78 ERA.

Bennett, who is batting .414, has a 1.05 ERA in seven outings while more pitching depth comes from Evan Ables and Jordan Taylor. Ables, the 41st-rated sophomore RHP, has a 1.65 ERA over 17 innings in 12 appearances while Taylor, a freshman who threw the first five innings of a 7-0 shutout over Franklin this past week, is 3-0 with a 1.60 ERA in 30.2 frames.

“Teams have really had to earn anything they get against us,” pointed out Dues. “I think our defense has really been solid.”

Senior third baseman Dylan Hartman, who is hitting .368, and freshman second baseman Austin Florhe join Clark in the lineup with Hall or Echman at first base and Smith behind the plate to complete the formidable infield.

Bitty Hendricks, a senior going to Edison and one of eight left-handed hitters on the squad, plays right field and averages .359 with Bryce Echman, the twin brother of Kaden, batting .325 and playing center. In left field is Michael Masters, a senior hitting .280.

“I knew we had some quality guys but I didn’t expect our defense to be as good as it is,” admitted Dues, who picked up his 500th coaching win in 2019. “I knew we’d swing the bats, but I wasn’t sure what to expect pitching after Echman and Hall. Our 3-4-5 has been good.

Dues, who led the team to the state semifinals in Division II in 2000, understands what needs to be done to keep it going. 

“We just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” explained Dues, whose squads have reached the state semifinals three times since moving to Division I. “Single elimination is always scary. We just have to play one game at a time, show up and play well.”

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