Needing a victory to boost its confidence before the second half of the season begins, the Dayton American Legion baseball team ripped Rockville, 16-9, at the Dayton Rod and Gun Club Monday night.

Todd Messner pitched a complete game, and shortstop Brian Bickerton went 4-for-4 to lead the Raiders.

Eight of nine Dayton starting players had at least one hit in a 14-hit effort. Rockville pitchers walked nine batters.

Dayton, the seven-time defending district champion team, is only 3-8 in the league and 6-9 overall.

But the North-Central District season is divided into two 13-game halves. If a different team wins each half, the district champion is determined by a playoff.

Although Dayton has struggled through the first half of the season, the Raiders show signs that they may be ready for a second-half turnaround.

They have wontwo of their last four games, and one of their losses was by one runin extra innings.

"I'm hoping in the second half we will play theway I think we're capable of playing," Manager George Bickerton said.

Messner did not walk a batter. He fanned two and allowed nine hits while raising his record to 3-0. Through the first six innings, heallowed just four hits and one earned run in a strong effort.

"Everything was working for me today," Messner said. "I got a lot of grounders off the split-fingered fastball."

But he gave up five hits and five runs in the top of the seventh.

"I started rushing my pitches and I didn't get the calls from the umpire in the last inning," Messner said.

His effort was even more impressive because Dayton made seven errors behind him and he was constantly pitching out of trouble that was not his fault.

Three of Rockville's first four runs were unearned.

But Dayton's offense exploded to overcome its fielding deficiencies. The Raiders scored in every inning but the first.

With Rockville leading, 2-0, in the bottom of the second inning, Dayton scored twice on a walk to Eric Glenn, a stolen base, a single byMessner and another by James Cheng. Cheng, Dayton's speedy center fielder, pulled a hamstring while running out a grounder in the fourth inning and will be sidelined indefinitely.

After Rockville scored an earned run in the third inning to go up, 3-2, Dayton scored two more runs in the bottom of the third.

The first of those two runs came when Bickerton led off with a single, stole second, and scored on Alex Brown's double. Brian Egolf also doubled, with Brown stopping atthird base.

Brown was thrown out at the plate when he tried to score on a

wild pitch, and Egolf went to third base on the play. Mike D'Andrea walked. The Raiders then pulled off a double steal as Egolf scored the next run, Dayton's fourth. A five-run fourth inning put Dayton ahead, 9-3.

Messner started the inning with a walk. A fielder's choice by Cheng resulted in Messner being cut down at second. Cheng pulled up lame at first and was forced to leave the game.

Pinch runner Mike Kelley was thrown out at the plate on Mark Trecannelli's double. But Bickerton knocked Trecannelli home on a single. Walks to Brown and Egolf loaded the bases.

D'Andrea reached on an error, and Bickerton scored on the play. Glenn then singled home two runs and a third run scored on a wild throw to second base by Rockville's catcher. Rockville made it 9-4 with an unearned run in the top of the fifth, but Dayton scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning tomake the score 15-4.

A three-run triple by Egolf, a run-scoring double by Darin Nelson, a sacrifice fly by D'Andrea and a bases-loadedwalk by Bickerton scored the six runs.

A walk to Kelley and a single by Bickerton scored Dayton's final run in the sixth inning.

Rockville's record fell to 3-8 in the league and 7-9 overall.

Dayton's second half starts Friday at Catonsville Community College againstDewey Lowman. The Raiders are at home Monday against Essex.

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