Innings with Max Navalinski
By Phil Stanton
The Dayton Flyers are tied with Temple for the
top spot in the Atlantic 10 with 6-0 conference marks. Dayton
swept a three-game series this past weekend from preseason
One of the top contributors for the Flyers is
senior outfielder Max Navalinski. The Kirkland, Wash., native is
batting .329 with 23 hits, four doubles, two homers, 13 runs and
11 RBI. His on-base percentage is .397 and he is 4 for 6 on
The Flyers are 15-10 this season, including 11-4
in home contests.
Navalinski recently took
time to answer our questions.
First Inning – What does it mean for Dayton to
sweep A-10 favorite Charlotte?
We also swept them in 2006, which was
the last time we made the A-10 tournament, finishing third in
the conference. It is a benchmark for our team to know exactly
how we stack up with the best of the A-10 and we can use a sweep
like this to build up a great deal of momentum continuing on
with the gauntlet that is A-10 conference play. (We are at Rhode
Island and Richmond the next two weeks which have typically been
perennial powers) Since my freshman year in 2006, we are 7-2
against Charlotte and 6-0 when they have come to our house.
Second Inning – What was the key in Sunday's comeback win?
Sunday's turning point was when our leadoff hitter, Jake
Spaeth, hit a grand slam to even the game after being down 8-2
early on. From there, we took the momentum and never looked
back. Freshman Cameron Hobson threw a solid 4.1, striking out 10
Charlotte batters he faced and allowing one unearned run and
really breaking their spirit. We have also adopted the Miami
Hurricanes' rally dance, which we do as a team in the dugout in
the 7th inning. It is 2 for 2 so far this year, not to jinx it.
Third Inning – How strong is the Flyer offense?
Having faith in our team offense has been the key to our
season. Last year, our pitching staff was lights out and our
offense struggled at times. Coach Vittorio preaches to us that
pitching and defense win championships, and while it does in
tournament play, our team offense is what has carried us up to
this point in the season and I believe will continue to do so
throughout the year. This year, the offensive players have put
an emphasis on carrying the team with quality at-bats and it has
been a new player stepping up in each crucial moment. We have 11
or 12 guys who are capable of filling a role and contributing
when they get their opportunity to do so.
Fourth Inning – How strong has the pitching been in the first
six conference games?
Our pitching staff has quietly put together quality outings
through the first six conference games. Our ace, Burny Mitchem,
was virtually unhittable early this year. Another freshman, Mike
Hauschild, has thrown extremely well. Quinn Haselhorst has been
consistent in quality appearances and always guarantees us a
chance to win games. The bullpen has been solid in conference as
well, getting starters out of jams and finishing off games.
Fifth Inning – What do the Flyers have to do the rest of the
season to continue their
We have to stay on an even keel. Although we would love to
go undefeated in conference play, it is not indicative of the
game of baseball. We are going to have bad days, we just have to
keep finding ways to win within those bad days and really
believe in one another to get the job done, as we have done thus
far. This summer I played in the Southern Collegiate Baseball
League for the Tennessee Tornado and we won both the league and
tournament championship. We had just about every kind of
personality and talent level, much like we do here at Dayton,
but I attribute the reason we were so successful this summer as
a team is because we all had confidence that someway, somehow,
we would find a way to end up on top. The same concept applies
Sixth Inning – How strange was it to play three home games in
three different locations the A-10 opening weekend against St.
It was definitely a different experience. With college
basketball's NCAA Tournament first and second rounds being held
at UD Arena, we had to move our Friday and Sunday games to
alternate locations. It basically felt like we were on the road
because of the unfamiliar surroundings (Friday was at Wittenberg
College) and that we had absolutely no fans other than parents
at our games on those days.
Seventh Inning – What brought you from the state of
Washington to Dayton?
The summer going into my senior year of high school, I was
picked up to play with a summer team for a tournament at the end
of the summer in San Diego. Their coach was Craig Bruce, who
then came to Dayton as an assistant in the 2005 season. I had a
great tournament, both pitching and offensively, and when we
were in the terminal waiting to board the plane, he told me that
he was going to recruit me to play at Dayton. Long story short,
Dayton was my best option to both play Division I baseball
straight out of high school and receive an education at a
four-year school. I also saw it as a challenge to go somewhere
2,000+ miles away from home and not have any knowledge about
where I was going or knowing anyone there.
Eighth Inning – What would it mean to you for UD to make the
NCAA Tournament this season?
To make the NCAA Tournament this year would fulfill four years
of hard work at the University of Dayton. The group of seniors
comes from a wide range of places around the country for the
same primary purpose and that is to get to a regional. Also, I
believe it would be the first time the UD baseball team would
have made it to the NCAA Tournament, which would be something to
hold on to for the rest of our lives. Personally, it has been a
journey full of ups, downs, ins and outs, and to make the NCAA
Tournament in my final year here would be the icing on the cake.
Ninth Inning – You are a sports management major. What do you
hope to do after your baseball career is over?
First and foremost, I hope to continue my baseball career
after this season, but I have also come to the realization that
it has to end at some point. As a sport management major, I feel
there is a wide variety of options for me within the world of
sports after baseball is over. Currently, I have applied to a
number of internships, mainly back home in Seattle. Within the
sports industry, I am interested in sports media, sports radio
and aspects of how sports drive the business world. My dream
job(s) include working in the front office of the Seattle
Mariners, ESPN, or a job in sports radio, debating
hotly-contested topics with the likes of Skip Bayless.
Extra Innings – What is your favorite A-10 road trip?
I believe I have made it to every A-10 site during my time
here, with the exception of Charlotte. I enjoy whenever we
travel to a big city, because I enjoy all of the types of
personalities that are encountered in major cities in the East,
such as New York (Fordham), Philadelphia (Saint Joseph's, La
Salle, Temple), Pittsburgh (Duquesne), and Boston (UMass). My
favorite trip, though, would have to be going to St. Louis. It
is our only trip west, we get to stay across the street from New
Busch Stadium, the city is not too crowded, they have great
restaurants and other attractions, and it is also one of the
only trips for us that isn't over seven hours, with Xavier
(Cincinnati) being just about the only other one.