Fastballs, velocity, arm angles and release points all matter to pitchers, while perhaps, something as simple as breathing can be an afterthought.
Not to Dragons’ starting pitcher Tyler Mondile, though.
The 20-year-old right-hander doesn’t take this basic human function for granted, attributing his breathing techniques in helping him record the best start of his Dragons’ career, even though Dayton fell to Peoria 7-4 at Fifth Third Field on Friday night.
“All week we’ve been working on my breathing, trying to slow the game down a little bit, and finding that focal point on the catcher’s mitt and attacking,” he said. ““Sometimes, the game speeds up on me a little bit so that breathing, it helps me calm down a little bit, stay locked in and stay focused,” he said.
Mondile coasted through the first three innings, allowing just one hit. The next frame would be his undoing though, as bad luck, a questionable call and a monster home run flipped his 2-0 lead into a 4-2 deficit.
He almost escaped the top of the fourth unscathed. With two outs, Peoria did its damage.
Shortstop Jose Garcia almost made a stellar diving play going to his right on a hard hit grounder off Peoria’s Zach Kirtley between second and third. The ball bounced off Garcia’s mitt, giving the Chiefs life.
Chiefs’ catcher Dennis Ortega followed up with a single to right, moving Kirtley to third. Left fielder Bryce Denton then hit a high chopper to third that everyone in the stadium thought was foul, except for the one person whose opinion mattered: The umpire.
The double cut Dayton’s lead to 2-1.
Taylor Bryant came up next, sending a first-pitch fastball from Mondile over the left field wall, giving Peoria a 4-2 lead. The Chiefs never relinquished the lead.
Mondile rebounded to throw scoreless frames in the fifth and sixth.
“I don’t let those things affect me,” he said. “You’ve got to attack the next pitch and I try to attack every pitch with the same mentality.”
Dragons manager Luis Bolivar was encouraged by Mondile’s latest effort, which was the longest of the seven starts he’s made in a Dayton uniform. The prospect allowed four earned runs, walked no one and struck out four.
“Getting six innings, that was huge for us, and there’s some progress in the way he’s been pitching….he looked much better,” Bolivar said.
Mondile entered Friday night with a 9.95 ERA. Teams were batting .395 against him. He fell to 0-3 (9.19 ERA) in defeat.
While the end result doesn’t show it, Bolivar sees this start as a step forward for his young pitcher.
“…Bouncing back, and he didn’t allow anything after [the fourth] that’s the part i like to see, how you can bounce back,” Bolivar said.
Mondile will take it, too.
“This leaves a pretty good taste in my mouth,” he said.
Dragons tales: Offensively, Narciso Crook’s five-game hitting streak ended with an 0-3 performance that included three strikeouts.
Michael Beltre continued to rake going 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs. Beltre is batting .333 in his second go-round with the Dragons. He batted .238 in 2017.
More tales: When Dayton loses, Dragons’ pitchers put a heavy burden on their offense. Dayton’s team ERA in 14 losses is 7.17 this season through Friday.
Bad defense can also put a team behind, and mistakes didn’t help the Dragons out Friday night. Dayton was charged with two errors, in addition to two wild pitches.
“We have to keep playing the whole game, concentrate and stay focused for 27 outs that’s all that matters,” Bolivar said. “Concentrate the whole game.”