Cut above on diamond for Dayton

Former Dust Devil greats Bowman, Kinney, Miller to be part of alumni game

One of the first things new Dayton High baseball coach Mike Burrows wanted to do was establish a yearly alumni baseball game. That plan comes to fruition Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

The greatest baseball coach in Dayton High history, Craig Miller, and arguably two of the best players in the history of the program, Matt Bowman and Jeremy Kinney, will be on the field this weekend and will be honored. Bowman and Kinney are the only Division I players in school history.

“When I took over the program, I thought it was important to bridge the past, present and future of Dayton baseball,” Burrow said. “That is why I started the mentor program with Little League and reached out to former players and coaches from the high school level to put this game together.”

Burrows coached for six years with Miller, and has the utmost respect for his former colleague, who also served as the school’s athletic director. Miller, who currently lives in Southern California, is coaching against Jay Merrill, who coached the Dust Devils to a 2007 championship.

“During my years with Craig, he was always the first one to school and the last one to leave,” Burrows said. “No one worked harder or cared more for the school’s athletic programs more. He practically built the field or at least made all the renovations to it. At one point it was the best field in what was known then as 3A.”

Bowman played four years of basketball and baseball at Dayton. In his senior year he was the 3A MVP and hit .657 with 21 homers. As a junior he hit .612 with 12 homers.

At the University of Nevada, he was a .335 career hitter. He played 214 games, starting in 204 of them. He was one guy coach Gary Powers could always count on.

“I saw Matt play in Little League and he had unbelievable talent,” Burrows said. “He was a once in a decade player. In fact, there hasn’t been a player of his caliber in our league since. Not only did Matt have the natural baseball instincts and athleticism but his work ethic was incredibly rare for a kid with so much talent. Hands down the greatest kid I’ve ever been fortunate enough to coach.”

Bowman, because of arm problems, opted not to try to play professionally. He’s now married with two small children. He works for Klondike Mines in Reno.

“I miss it (baseball), but I don’t regret my decision,” Bowman said. “I play a day of softball, and my arm hurts for a month. I had several MRIs, and the doctors really figured out what was wrong.”

One of Bowman’s biggest thrills was playing in the prestigious Cape Cod League in the summer of 2008. Brandon Belt of the Giants and Dustin Ackley of the Mariners were among the players in the league, and Bowman proudly points out he hit for a higher average than Belt.

Kinney had a stellar senior season at Dayton, hitting .502 with 15 homers and 50 RBI, and compiling a 2.80 ERA with 119 strikeouts. He went 8-5 his freshman year at Feather River and then had a 1.72 ERA his sophomore season. He eventually earned a scholarship at the University of San Francisco. He won four games for the Dons in 2002, including consecutive victories against St. Mary’s, Cal and Portland. He struck out 113 hitters in 143 innings in his USF career.

“I was able to coach with Jeremy when he came home after his last season at the University of San Francisco,” Burrows said. “He was on staff with Craig and I and we immediately became good friends. He is on my varsity staff now and we have been coaching with each other at various levels for over 10 years.

“Jeremy has become one of the best coaches in our area. His knowledge of pitching and the work ethic it takes to succeed at the college level are making a big impact on the program and the kids in general.”

Kinney came back after graduating from USF and helped Miller from 2003 to 2005. He has two kids, 12 (son) and 13 (daughter), who are involved in sports.

He has actively been involved in coaching youth baseball for the past six years. He’s currently working with three different teams.

“I enjoy it,” Kinney said. “I just wanted to give back what I had (received). I wanted to be involved.”


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